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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hansbrough, top-seeded UNC beat Mount St. Mary’s 113-74



AP Photo/Chuck Burton

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (50) and Mount St. Mary's Jeremy Goode, top, battle for the ball during the first half of a first-round NCAA East Regional basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, March 21, 2008.

— Marcus Ginyard grabbed the loose ball near midcourt and sprinted in for an uncontested dunk. Instead, North Carolina's normally steady junior bricked the ball into the front of the rim, landed on his tail and heard the laughter coming from his bench.

Ginyard could only smile as he scrambled to his feet.

"There's really nothing else for me to do at this point but to laugh about it," he said.

Of course, it was easy to laugh it off with his team up big and rolling to one of the storied program's best offensive showings in the NCAA tournament.

Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson each had 21 points Friday night to help the top-seeded Tar Heels cruise by Mount St. Mary's 113-74 in the first round of the East Regional, a game that quickly turned into a crowd-pleasing romp for the thousands of blue-clad fans who filled an arena just a short drive from the Chapel Hill campus.

Wayne Ellington added 16 points for the Tar Heels (33-2), who have won 12 straight and continued their near-perfect run in NCAA games played in their home state. North Carolina improved to 22-1 in those games and advanced to Sunday's second round to face the Arkansas-Indiana winner.

North Carolina's 113 points were tied for second in school history for an NCAA game, trailing only a 123-point showing in a second-round win against Loyola Marymount in 1988. It was the first time the Tar Heels had hit triple digits in an NCAA game in 15 years.

The Tar Heels also tied their national title-winning group from 2005 for the second-most victories in school history. They're one win shy of tying the single-season record set by the 1993 team that won Dean Smith's second NCAA championship and the '98 team that reached the Final Four in San Antonio.

Of course, many players figure none of that matters if they don't get back there this year.

"Everybody wants to make a statement, but it means nothing," junior Danny Green said. "It's one game, because the next game, you never know. You could lose or it could be a one- or two-point game. The whole key is to survive and move on."

Playing a team that figured it had nothing to lose by trying to run with them, the Tar Heels scored the first seven points and never looked back. They led 60-41 at halftime, cracked the 100-point mark with more than 4½ minutes remaining and finished with 29 fast-break points as they seemingly spent most of the game in transition.

North Carolina shot 61 percent and took a 48-22 rebounding advantage, including 18-9 on the offensive glass to finish with 26 second-chance points against the undersized Mountaineers (19-15).

"It seemed like they had an extra person around," Mountaineers forward Sam Atupem said. "It's like they had six people to our five rebounding."

For Mount St. Mary's, it marked the third time they had reached the tournament as a No. 16 seed and suffered a lopsided loss to one of the favorites. They lost by 46 to Kentucky in 1995 and by 23 to Michigan State in '99, but at least this time the Mountaineers could head home knowing they at least won an NCAA game: a 69-60 victory over Coppin State in Tuesday's play-in.

During Thursday's pre-game news conferences, Jeremy Goode and Chris Vann took a relaxed "Why not us?" attitude when asked about the daunting task of knocking off the Tar Heels in their backyard. When coach Milan Brown arrived a few minutes later, he quipped that the Mountaineers would "show up with a rock and a slingshot."

But the Tar Heels quickly erased all doubt in this one. Other than Ginyard's blown dunk, the Tar Heels had little to complain about. And once Alex Stepheson hit two free throws to give North Carolina a 101-58 lead with 4:39 left, Roy Williams sent the end of his bench jogging to the scorer's table.

"I felt like our guys would be prepared to play," Williams said. "I tell them all the time, 'If you're looking down the road at someone else, that's where you're going - down the road back home.'"

Deon Thompson had 15 points and eight rebounds for North Carolina, which had its regulars spending the final minutes leading cheers from the bench, waving towels and laughing - including when they jumped up at Surry Wood's alley-oop dunk off a feed from Marc Campbell with 1:46 left.

By the end, 14 of North Carolina's 15 players scored. Campbell, the only player who didn't, finished with three assists.

Vann scored 16 points to lead Mount St. Mary's.

"Some of the time, when we did very good things, they were still able to make plays," Brown said. "When you do it perfect, when you do it like you practice, and the guy still sticks it in your eyes, sometimes that's more demoralizing than them getting a free look."


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