Defense Wears Down Gauchos

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Fueled by defense and fast breaks, North Carolina simply wore down scrappy UC Santa Barbara for a 83-66 victory in front of 17,305 Friday night at the Smith Center. Tyler Hansbrough led four teammates in double figures to send the Tar Heels cruising into Tuesday's rematch of the 2005 national championship with No. 15 Illinois.

The freshman center also battled for a game-high 11 rebounds for what will surely be the first of many career double-doubles.

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  • "I'm real pleased with that," Hansbrough said. "It's something I need to concentrate on as being the Carolina big man."

    "As a freshman, he's about the best I've seen around the basket in a long time," added Roy Williams.

    When UNC (3-0) built its biggest lead of the game midway through the second half, the Gauchos (2-1) were grasping their shorts and gasping for air; and at times, even grabbing Carolina jerseys in order to slow down the Tar Heels.

    In what had been a tough contest for about 30 minutes, quickly turned into Carolina's second decisive win in as many games. UNC's held its largest lead of the night -- 23 points -- with 3:14 left in the game.

    The Tar Heels, which lost an unprecedented seven of its leading scorers from last year and a team supposedly all about defense, has won it's last two by an average of 37 points while shooting 53.5 percent from the floor on the young season.

    Williams may not be pressing David Noel to score more this year, nor does he have to. The Durham senior is averaging 14.7 points per game after dropping in 14 against the Gauchos. He also chipped in eight rebounds, a block and a steal.

    "He's an all-around good basketball player," Williams said. "I don't think he's exceptional at any one thing. He just does so many good things for you, and he just makes everybody else feel good when he's out there on the court."

    Reyshawn Terry and Bobby Frasor each scored 12 points.

    Frasor started his third straight game at the point, dishing out a game-high six assists, while committing four turnovers.

    "I didn't think he looked that good out there, but I'm a tough critic on my point guards," Williams said. "But I think his comfort level is getting better. He's a gym rat, and I love those guys."

    UCSB boasted a roster with six players 6-foot-8 or taller, but the stifling UNC defense, which forced 12 first-half turnovers – nine of them steals, turned the Gauchos into a three-point shooting team. That didn't seem to be a problem early, as they connected on 8-for-16 from behind the arc in the opening stanza, after coming into the game averaging just 15 three-point attempts in its previous two games.

    The Tar Heels held the Gauchos without a field goal for a 4:18 stretch of the first half, and went on an 11-1 run to take a 26-18 lead.

    "They did a great job defensively," UCSB coach Bob Williams said. "I thought they were really good off the boards, and they destroyed us by getting to the foul line."

    Yet, the Tar Heels suffered through eight miscues themselves. And when Cecil Brown's three-point offering sailed cleanly through at the 3:41 mark, the score was tied again at 32 apiece.

    But Hansbrough answered two possessions later with a basket and a free throw, and Frasor scored seven points down the stretch to ignite an 11-2 Carolina run, as the Tar Heels went to intermission up 43-34.

    The going gets rougher over next week for UNC, which follows up the game with the Illini (0-0) on the road at seventh-ranked Kentucky (2-0) on Saturday.

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