"I've said a lot of times this year that we can really shoot the ball," head coach Roy Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference. "We shot the Dickens out of it tonight."
North Carolina (20-2, 6-2 ACC) used a pair of 10-0 first-half runs to dart out to a 60-44 halftime lead, draining 11 of its 15 3-pointers and shooting 50 percent (21-of-42) from the floor. Those 11 long-range bombs matched the school's record in a half, and the 16 total 3’s were one shy of the record for a game set against Florida State in 1995.
UNC eventually built a 26-point working margin in the second half, as Maryland (14-8, 3-5 ACC) was unable to match the Tar Heels’ offensive onslaught.
Wayne Ellington led the Carolina charge, scoring 34 points on 12-of-15 shooting (7-of-9 from behind the arc). The junior guard is connecting on 52.8 percent (19-of-36) of his 3-pointers over the last five games. His seven 3-pointers tie his career-high, which was set against Miami just 17 days ago.
"I was kind of in the same zone as I was against Miami,” said Ellington, who also had a career-high nine rebounds – seven on the offensive end. “I just finally got it going. As soon as I saw a couple go in, I felt like all of them were going to go in."
In his six outings prior to the Miami victory, Ellington had only made eight total 3-pointers.
“He struggled a lot early [this season], but he’s been playing much better lately and shooting the ball better lately,” Williams said. “Every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in.”
But Ellington was not alone in his blistering of the nets from deep. Danny Green (16 points, five assists, three blocks) connected on four of his six attempts, while Ty Lawson (21 points, six assists, four steals) drilled four of his five attempts.
Hansbrough (24 points, six rebounds) also got into the action, nailing his only 3-point shot midway through the second half. The senior forward set an ACC record by scoring 20-plus points for the 71st time (surpassing Duke’s J.J. Redick), while also setting a UNC record by scoring in double figures for the 119th time (Sam Perkins, 118).
The reigning national player of the year has now moved into second place in ACC history in career scoring behind Redick, boasting 2,572 points. Hansbrough needs just 198 points to eclipse Redick’s record.
North Carolina had three players score 20-plus points for the first time since facing Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament on March 12, 2004, when Sean May (27), Rashad McCants (25) and Raymond Felton (20) all broke that barrier.
The Tar Heels shot 51.4 percent (36-of-70) overall, but they did allow Maryland to connect on 48.0 percent of its field goals, including a staggering 55.6 percent in the first half.
"It was a good night for us offensively,” Green said. “But we know we're not going to outscore every team that we play. So we're disappointed with the way we played defense."
Sean Mosely led Maryland with 19 points, while Cliff Tucker added 18 points, four assists and three steals for Gary Williams’ squad.
ACC officials have faced scrutiny this season for their lack of consistency, and Tuesday provided more evidence for that criticism. The referee crew, consisting of John Cahill, Roger Ayers and Tony Greene, called 10 fouls in first half, and then blew the whistle 15 times in the opening 6:11 of the second half. In all, there were 38 fouls called.
North Carolina stays in Chapel Hill for their next ACC contest, welcoming Virginia on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip.