Hansbrough, No.7 NC Beat No.3 Ohio St.

Thursday, November 30th 2006, 7:54 am
By: News On 6

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina was taking command when it counted against Ohio State, leaning on big man Tyler Hansbrough to lead the decisive run.

The strategy was simple: beat the third-ranked Buckeyes with the sophomore star's brute force. And Ohio State's best threat to stop him _ freshman extraordinaire Greg Oden _ was stuck on the bench in street clothes while recovering from offseason wrist surgery.

Hansbrough scored seven of his 21 points during the decisive spurt and added 14 rebounds, helping the No. 7 Tar Heels overcome No. 3 Ohio State's strong shooting and beat the Buckeyes 98-89 Wednesday night in the marquee matchup of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

``I played against Oden in high school and he does a lot of things defensively,'' Hansbrough said. ``He would have helped them defensively. ... He's a great player, and we'll have to see when he gets better.''

The Tar Heels (5-1) eventually took advantage of the 7-foot Oden's absence, rallying from a 10-point first-half deficit with a strong second half in which Hansbrough shot 5-for-5 and played a critical role in the 17-2 run which put North Carolina ahead for good.

``They probably did a better job of clearing out'' space for Hansbrough in the second half, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ``They did some things we hadn't seen them do coming into this game, a lot more screens (for their shooters) and that got us early, but those guys are powerful down there.''

In other Top 25 games, it was: No. 2 Pittsburgh 67, Robert Morris 53; No. 10 LSU 91, McNeese St. 57; No. 13 Washington 87, Idaho 66; No. 14 Memphis 86, Arkansas St. 60; No. 17 Wichita St. 85, UMKC 55; Oregon 57, No. 18 Georgetown 50; No. 19 Butler 60, Valparaiso 47; No. 20 Connecticut 89, Sacred Heart 46; No. 24 Nevada 86, Louisiana-Lafayette 74; and Purdue 61, No. 25 Virginia 59.

Ron Lewis had 30 points for the Buckeyes (6-1), who started four guards and made 12 of their first 19 attempts from 3-point range before finishing 13-of-26 from beyond the arc.

``They were bigger than us down low, and they took advantage of that,'' Ohio State guard Ivan Harris said. ``And we took advantage of the outside presence.''

Three freshmen also had big scoring games to complement Hansbrough _ guards Wayne Ellington (19 points) and Ty Lawson (13), and swingman Brandan Wright (11). But it was Hansbrough who led the way underneath and helped North Carolina outrebound the Buckeyes 41-27.

``There is a lot of talented big men in the country, and it seems like every good team has a big man, and that's what you need on a college level,'' Wright said. ``You need a guy who is going to hit the paint and who does a lot on the team, a lot of the dirty work.''

Ohio State led 68-63 with 10:50 remaining when Hansbrough started North Carolina's critical run with a layup, gave the Tar Heels the lead for good with a three-point play and capped the spurt with another layup to make it 80-70 with 6:33 left.

Ohio State never got closer than five the rest of the way.

``At times, I think that I'll step in and tell them, but at other times I think it comes within themselves,'' Hansbrough said. ``I don't claim to be a leader, but at the same time I think that each one of us can pull each other up. It's not just me in particular.''

Ivan Harris added 17 points for the Buckeyes, and reserve Daequan Cook _ one of eight freshmen to play major roles _ added 14.

Ohio State refused to blame its second-half struggle on the young players' inexperience in hostile arenas, even though it was the Buckeyes' first road game of the season and it came before 21,750 noisy fans at an ear-splitting Dean Smith Center described by Hansbrough as ``jumping.''

``I wouldn't even say it's because they were freshmen,'' Lewis said. ``They played a great game, and our freshmen are mature. They know how to go and play a good game on the road. They've done it before in high school.''

No. 2 Pittsburgh 67, Robert Morris 53

Aaron Gray had 21 points and 15 rebounds to help the host Panthers (7-0) hold off an upset bid by intracity rival Robert Morris (4-1).

No. 10 LSU 91, McNeese St. 57

At Baton Rouge, La., Garrett Temple had 17 points and Tasmin Mitchell scored 14 of his 16 in the second half for LSU (3-1). Glen Davis hit nine free throws to finish with 15 points.

No. 13 Washington 87, Idaho 66

Freshman Quincy Pondexter scored a season-high 25 points and Jon Brockman grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Huskies (6-0), who won for the 45th time in their last 47 home games.

No. 14 Memphis 86, Arkansas State 60

At Memphis, Tenn., Antonio Anderson had 17 points and five assists, and Jeremy Hunt scored 15 for the Tigers (4-1). Robert Dozier added 13 points and eight rebounds.

No. 17 Wichita St. 85, UMKC 55

P.J. Couisnard scored 16 points and Wichita State made its first 11 shots in the second half. Phillip Thomasson added 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first start for the Shockers (5-0), who played their first home game as a ranked team since 1983.

Oregon 57, No. 18 Georgetown 50

Aaron Brooks scored 15 points and Oregon (6-0) made up for poor shooting with hustle and rebounding to beat Georgetown (4-2). The victory was the first for the Ducks on the road against a ranked team in the Eastern time zone. They had been 0-7 on such trips.

No. 19 Butler 60, Valparaiso 47

Mike Green scored 16 points and A.J. Graves added 13 to lead visiting Butler (8-0), playing with its highest ranking in 57 years.

No. 20 Connecticut 89, Sacred Heart 46

Doug Wiggins and Craig Austrie each scored 12 points to help the Huskies (6-0) extend their home winning streak to 25 games.

No. 24 Nevada 86, Louisiana-Lafayette 74

Nick Fazekas scored 21 points, Marcelus Kemp added 19 and visiting Nevada (6-0) broke open a close game midway through the second half.

Purdue 61, No. 25 Virginia 59

Tarrance Crump hit a driving floater with 1 second remaining, giving host Purdue a victory in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Carl Landry scored 19 points for the Boilermakers (5-1), who blew a nine-point lead midway through the second half and fell behind by five. Sean Singletary led the Cavaliers (4-1) with 21 points.