North Carolina cruises by Virginia Tech

February 16, 2008 4:42:30 PM PST
Tyler Hansbrough had 23 points and nine rebounds to help No. 5 North Carolina beat Virginia Tech 92-53 on Saturday.

Wayne Ellington had 19 points for the Tar Heels (24-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who dominated the entire way to avenge last season's sweep by the Hokies. North Carolina shot 50 percent and held a 54-24 rebounding advantage, while its defense held Virginia Tech to 26 percent shooting.

Malcolm Delaney scored 20 points for the Hokies (14-11, 5-6), who have lost three straight games to fall farther back in the muddled league race.

It was a refreshingly easy 40 minutes for the Tar Heels, who have been battling through injuries, illnesses and tough matchups for the past two weeks. North Carolina played its fourth straight game without injured point guard Ty Lawson, while Hansbrough (infected toe), Danny Green (flu), Deon Thompson (hyperextended left knee), Marcus Ginyard (right ankle sprain) and Quentin Thomas (back spasms) all played through a variety of ailments.

Since Lawson sprained his left ankle in an 84-73 overtime win at Florida State on Feb. 3, North Carolina has lost to No. 2 Duke, had to rally from a 15-point deficit to beat Clemson in double overtime and held off Virginia 75-74 on the road Tuesday.

But the Tar Heels finally looked more like themselves against the Hokies, hitting their first four shots and building a double-digit lead just 5 1/2 minutes in. Hansbrough had 12 points in the first half, while reserve Alex Stepheson scored on a stickback and a layup just before the horn to take a 43-23 lead.

Considering the way Virginia Tech was shooting, it might as well have been a 50-point margin. The Hokies went just 7-for-27 in the first half, including 1-for-9 from 3-point range, then missed their first nine shots after the break as the Tar Heels steadily increased the lead.

Hansbrough went 11-for-12 at the free throw line and scored at least 22 points for the fifth straight game. Ellington hit three 3-pointers, while Green (12 points), Stepheson (11) and reserve Will Graves (10) also cracked double figures.

Thomas -- taking over at the point for Lawson -- finished with six points, six rebounds and seven assists. Thompson played just 9 minutes in the first half and sat out the second half.


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