ACC hoops: UNC 91, Evansville 73: Hansbrough sets scoring record in win
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2008
By Bret Strelow
CHAPEL HILL ó A captive audience that included an emotional Tyler Hansbrough watched intently as the Smith Center video boards mixed in congratulatory remarks with the collection of memorable plays.
The accompanying music: O.A.R. hit “Shattered.”
Hansbrough, North Carolina’s new career scoring leader, approached midcourt when the song ended. UNC legend Phil Ford bowed before him.
Hansbrough passed Ford for the top spot in school history while posting 20 points in the top-ranked Tar Heels’ 91-73 victory against Evansville on Thursday night.
Hansbrough entered the game with 2,282 points, eight fewer than Ford’s total from 1974-78. He broke the record when he posted up on the right block, spun toward the middle of the lane and banked in an off-balanced shot over James Haarsma with 7:42 remaining in the first half.
Hansbrough missed a dunk 23 seconds later with UNC leading 24-20, and the Tar Heels (10-0) took control with a 19-4 run.
“I’m usually not nervous before games, and I was a little nervous before tonight just because I felt like there was a lot of pressure,” Hansbrough said. “One thing for me, I didn’t want to strictly focus on trying to break a scoring record. We had a game, and I was trying to do whatever I could to help the team.
“Whenever it did happen, I was thrilled and excited it was over. Also, I felt very honored.”
Officials stopped the game when Hansbrough, who now has 2,302 points, made the record-setting basket. Ford, an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats, was posing for a courtside picture with two UNC students when the ball went through the net.
Ford, coach Roy Williams and director of athletics Dick Baddour presented Hansbrough with the gameball during the brief stoppage in play.
“It’s an honor to be compared in the same breath with Tyler,” Ford said. “When I look at how hard he plays and how he listens to Coach Williams, as a player, that’s what I tried to do. As a player I wouldn’t outrun a lot of people or outjump a lot of people ó I was extremely quick, I will say that.
“The only thing I had going for me is I played for a great coach who brought out the best abilities in the things I could do. I think that’s what Tyler does.”
The postgame ceremony featured comments from Williams, strength and conditioning coach Jonas Sahratian, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Antawn Jamison, Marcus Ginyard and Bobby Frasor.
It also included clips of Hansbrough’s dunk over 7-foot-7 Kenny George, his buzzer-beating shot against Virginia Tech in the 2008 ACC Tournament and his game-clinching 3-pointer at Duke as a freshman.
Ford made a favorable impression early in his UNC career at an unlikely sight: the Fetzer Field track. Roy Williams recalled the effort Ford put forth to complete the team’s mile run in a predetermined amount of time.
“The coaches are counting out the time as Phil Ford comes in there, and he dove across the line at Fetzer on the asphalt track,” Williams said. “Tyler Hansbrough would have done that.
“That, to me, is one of the most special things. Phil Ford is one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever seen, and Tyler Hansbrough is also. There’s not a lot of people in that classroom.”
Hansbrough, like Ford, declined an opportunity to leave school for the NBA following his junior season.
The fun of college is one reason Hansbrough, who’s on pace to take over the ACC career scoring mark currently held by Duke alum J.J. Redick, returned to UNC.
The Tar Heels are favored to win the national championship, but the pursuit of a title isn’t always serious business even if Hansbrough’s interaction with teammates such as Larry Drew suggests otherwise.
“There was a lot of hype around this game, but before the game the whole team is around playing Xbox and ‘Mortal Kombat,’ ” Frasor said. “He’s getting into it, calling Larry a cheater. Stuff like that you wouldn’t get at a professional level.”