Thursday, November 27, 2008

UNC: AS GOOD, OR BETTER, THAN ADVERTISED

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 102, No. 8 Notre Dame (Fighting Irish, 8,352 students, South Bend, ID) 87

Some people will say thanks to Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and four NCAA Championships that North Carolina is overrated.

Those very same folks claim that a talented and deep Final Four team of last year won’t look like Secretariat – running away from their competition – when they play a ranked team from a top conference as opposed to the typical pre-ACC season mixed bag of non-conference cannon fodder.

Some other people say UNC isn’t as good as advertised.

All of those people are wrong.

Last night, in final of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, No. 1 North Carolina (6-0,0-0) looked every bit the part of the best team in the land as they demolished Notre Dame (4-1) 102-87. The game wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate.

Reigning player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough returned to form in an impressive 30 minute performance that netted 34 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Hansbrough, who spent a big part of last season developing a mid- to long-range jump shot, utilized those skills against the Irish making a series of mid-range jumpers and his fourth career three-pointer.

Point guard Ty Lawson, another big-game player, simply decided to see how fast Notre Dame’s front court was with a slash, flash and dash game that ginsued the Irish for 22 points and 11 assists. His performance, besides terrifying future opposing point guards, earned him the tournament MVP after totaling 22 assists against two turnovers in the three games.

As good as Hansbrough was, head coach Roy Williams said his star player is still not 100% recovered from various leg injuries.

“He’s about 75 percent but he played better than that tonight. He was really fired up,” Ol’ Roy said. “It’s been tearing at him not to be able to play.”

Notre Dame’s pre-season All American Luke Harangody was slowed by the flu and the arduous task of defending Hansbrough, but teammate Ryan McAlarney kept it reasonably competitive with a 39 point effort. McAlarney was 10-18 from behind the arc, breaking his own school record of nine three pointers.

The Domers might have been a bit battle weary from the previous night’s nail-biting one-point victory over the No. 7 Texas Longhorns.

Deon Thompson had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who had a 44-36 rebound advantage and shot 55.7 percent from the field.

“They really come at you with a lot of guys. It’s a heck of a basketball team,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “Lawson did a great job in transition and then we were digging out of a hole the whole game.”

No. 10 Purdue (Boilermakers, 40,040 students, West Lafayette, IN) 71, BOSTON COLLEGE 64 – Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore scored 19 points and No. 10 Purdue withstood a late rally to beat BC in the NIT.

VIRGINIA TECH 76, Elon 67 (Phoenix, 4,939 students, Elon, NC) - A.D. Vassallo and Victor Davilo scored 16 points apiece, and Malcolm Delaney hit 12 free throws in the final 2:12 to help Virginia Tech defeat Elon in Blacksburg.

(AP Photos/Chris Carlson and Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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