Heels Lock Down Oregon

LAHAINA, Hawaii – While the weather outside of the Lahaina Civic Center is quintessential Maui, No. 1 North Carolina delivered a stifling hot defensive performance against Oregon on Tuesday, holding the Ducks to 30.1 percent shooting in its 98-69 blowout victory in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

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The Tar Heels blew open the contest between the two prominent Nike schools with an early 21-3 spurt to build a 51-22 halftime lead.

"The first half we were really pretty doggone good," UNC head coach Roy Williams said during his postgame press conference. "That, more or less, was the game right there. It was such a big margin that they couldn't come back as long as we continued to score a little bit on the other end."

The Tar Heels (5-0) have posted back-to-back lopsided victories by a combined 74 points in Hawaii with defense serving as the common denominator. Chaminade and Oregon (3-2) combined to shoot 24.2 percent (16-of-66) in the first half of their respective games, and while both teams' second-half numbers increased dramatically, the outcomes had already been decided.

"Last night and tonight in the first half we were good defensively, but they missed some shots, too," Williams said.

Oregon connected on a woeful eight of their 38 field goal attempts in the first half, including a 1-of-14 display from 3-point range. With three underclassmen in the starting lineup, the Ducks were unable to keep their composure against North Carolina's maniacal tempo.

"They can turn it up and get up the line on you, and get you kind of stagnant a little bit," Oregon head coach Ernie Kent said. "And we played way too much one-on-one basketball in this game to beat a team of that magnitude. You have got to be able to grind out offense with them, pound them inside and do some things that way, and we did not do that."

North Carolina has held its first five opponents to a combined 39.6 percent shooting (116-of-293) on the season.

Danny Green led all scorers with 21 points, while adding eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Before Monday's 26-point outburst against Chaminade, the New York senior's career high was 20 points against both Kentucky and Valparaiso last December. He followed up that career-high scoring night with a career-high five made 3-pointers on Tuesday, draining all of the long range bombs in the first 20 minutes of play.

"[It's] really just my teammates finding me when I'm open," Green replied when asked about his offensive performances this week. "There's no real big secret to it. They had to focus so much on Tyler on the inside and Ty [Lawson] when he's penetrating and Wayne [Ellington] – we have so many threats – it leaves me open sometimes. I was just lucky enough to be open at the right spot at the right time, and they found me and I knocked a couple in."

So is it safe to assume that the senior forward has adjusted to his new starting role?

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Green said.

Tyler Hansbrough also made his first appearance in Maui, scoring 16 points (2-of-4 on field goals, 12-of-14 on free throws) and grabbing four rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

"I felt good – it's good to get back out there and get into the groove of things," Hansbrough said. "But [with] conditioning, I'm a little out of shape, but that will come the more I play and the more I practice. My ankle, I felt it a little bit, but overall I felt pretty good."

The reigning national player of the year's status for Wednesday's title game is still up in the air.

"The decision of whether Tyler will play tomorrow night will be made during warmups," Williams said. "And it will be made with both of us. It won't be one of us, it will be both of us. If he has any pain in his ankle, we probably won't play him and if he doesn't, if he feels good, we probably will play him."

North Carolina actually committed more turnovers than Oregon did on Tuesday (18 to 14), but dominated the boards by a 58 to 33 margin.

Ellington (13), Deon Thompson (11) and Ed Davis (11 points, 13 rebounds) joined their teammates in double-digit scoring. Freshman Michael Dunigan led the Ducks with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Matthew Humphrey added 11 points.

With a tournament championship game set against No. 8 Notre Dame on Wednesday night at 10 pm ET, the Tar Heels will be well rested as Green was the only player that saw more than 22 minutes of action on Tuesday.

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