Practice pays off for Tar Heels

Published 7:27 pm Sunday, December 23, 2007

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — Roy Williams spent the past few days running his North Carolina players hard during practice. Once the game started Saturday, it was UC Santa Barbara’s turn to run.
Tyler Hansbrough scored 21 points and No. 1 North Carolina bounced back from a lackluster performance by dominating the Gauchos 105-70.
Marcus Ginyard added a career-high 17 points, Wayne Ellington also had 17 and Ty Lawson finished with 15 for the Tar Heels (11-0), who shot 57 percent in continuing their best start since the 1997-98 team won its first 17 games.
But Williams was less than satisfied after the Tar Heels’ most recent outing, a sleepy 10-point victory three days earlier against Nicholls State. After that game, the Hall of Fame coach said his goal for the next day’s practice was to run his team hard enough to ‘‘see how many guys I can make throw up.’’
North Carolina responded with just the kind of focused defensive performance the coach was after, with his team pressuring the passing lanes, forcing 17 turnovers and regularly generating easy baskets.
The Tar Heels never trailed, led by 20 points at halftime and made it a 30-point game just 4 minutes into the second half.
The only question was whether they would crack the 100-point mark for the fourth time this season. Football player Greg Little, making his debut on in a basketball game, took care of that by hitting a 3 from the right corner with 53 seconds left to make it 101-70 and send the crowd into delirium.
James Powell and Alex Harris scored 17 points apiece and Nedim Pajevic had 12 for the Gauchos (10-2), who were denied in their bid to match the best 12-game start in school history. UC Santa Barbara’s eight-game winning streak — its longest since opening 1988-89 with 11 straight victories — also was snapped in its first meeting with a No. 1 team since knocking off eventual national champion UNLV in 1990.
Danny Green had 11 points and Deon Thompson had a career-high 12 rebounds for North Carolina.
Hansbrough — who has four straight games with at least 20 points, and eight on the season — had his second overwhelming performance against the Gauchos. He had the first double-double of his career two seasons ago in the only previous meeting between the schools.
The only blemish on North Carolina’s latest dominating performance was a severe drought from long distance.
The Tar Heels scored 52 points in the first half despite missing all five of their attempts from 3-point range. They misfired on their first eight shots from that distance before Bobby Frasor finally knocked down a 3 from the right wing with 12 1/2 minutes left, and they finished 3-of-16 from behind the arc.