“It means a lot --I look back and think of all the players that I've watched when I was young and in the ACC,” Hansbrough told reporters during UNC’s postgame press conference. “All of those, and for me to top all of the scorers in that league, it's special. It's an honor.”
Hansbrough (5-of-16) tied J.J. Redick’s record of 2,769 points on an inside feed from Deon Thompson, drawing contact before muscling up a close-range shot at the 16:29 mark. Forty-six seconds later, the Poplar Bluff, Mo. product was fouled in the lane by Phillip Martin, setting up the record-setting free throw.
Interestingly enough, his 12 made free throws on as many tries represents the best free throw percentage in a game by a Tar Heel in NCAA Tournament history.
Hansbrough’s current point total of 2,789 stands as 16th-best in NCAA history. The senior forward broke Phil Ford’s UNC scoring record of 2,290 points on Dec. 18, 2008, in a win over Evansville.
The Greensboro Coliseum served as a home away from home for North Carolina on Thursday, with sections 126 and 232 sticking out with Radford against a dominant light blue. The Tar Heel faithful thought they may see the ACC Player of the Year in action when Ty Lawson participated in pregame warm-ups, but UNC head coach Roy Williams elected to hold his star point guard out to give the now infamous big right toe a couple of more days to heal.
“I have no idea about Ty,” Williams said when asked Lawson potentially playing on Saturday. “That's just the best answer I can give you guys. If we practice tomorrow if he's able to practice and do some things in practice, I'll probably play him. But if he's like he was yesterday, then I'm not going to play him.”
Lawson felt a little more positive about his status, saying, “[The toe] is feeling better – a lot better. I was out there running around [in pregame warm-ups], laying the ball up and just doing little things like that. I was actually walking on all five of my toes, so I think it will be a good possibility that I play on Saturday.”
As it turned out, top-seeded North Carolina didn’t need Lawson’s services against its Big South opponent, delivering an unrelenting offensive onslaught that included a 45.2 percent (38-of-84) shooting display. Wayne Ellington led the way with a NCAA Tournament career-high of 25 points, while Ed Davis added 15 points, five rebounds and four steals.
“I think the pace of the game, and the number of big guys that we could run in there, perhaps, tired them out a little bit,” said Williams, who won his 50th NCAA Tournament game as a head coach on Thursday. “ … That's what we try to do all the time is try to make the pace and stamina a question mark. But we didn't shoot the ball nearly as well as we wanted to.”
Radford attempted to match UNC’s high-octane pace, and succeeded in keeping the margin respectable in the first 10 minutes of play. The Highlanders connected on seven of their first 12 field goal attempts, but the dream was short-lived. Head coach Brad Greenberg’s squad would only manage 22.1 percent (15-of-68) from the floor during the remainder of the contest.
“I think their depth wears a lot of teams down,” Greenberg said. “We're not a real deep team, so I think it wore us down a little. I think fatigue set in.”
For the game, Radford connected on 27.5 percent of its shots while coughing up 18 turnovers that North Carolina converted into 21 points. Big South Player of the Year Art Parakhouski was held to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting, and Joey Lynch-Flohr and Amir Johnson led the Highlanders with 12 points each.
North Carolina used a pair of first-half spurts (11-2 and 10-2) to build a 53-34 halftime lead, and then effectively put the game away with an early 23-5 second-half run that yielded an 81-44 advantage. The Tar Heels 43-point margin of victory is the second-largest in the school’s NCAA Tournament history, falling two points shy of a 112-67 defeat of Rhode Island in 1993.
There’s nothing quite like a No.1-No.16 matchup to work out of a slump, and Danny Green took full advantage. After missing 22 of his 25 field goal attempts during last weekend’s ACC Tournament, the senior wing shot a respectable 42.9 percent (6-of-14) on Thursday, scoring 15 points while adding 10 rebounds and three steals.
Up next for the Tar Heels is No. 8 seed LSU, which upended No. 9 seed Butler, 75-71. Game time will be at either 5:45pm or 8:15pm on Saturday.