ACC Basketball: UNC 97, Rutgers 75: Ginyard returns in win
By Bret Strelow
CHAPEL HILL ó Marcus Ginyard went to the tunnel behind North Carolina’s bench to warm up on an exercise bike before he’d check in, and he cracked a smile after airballing a free throw.
Ginyard still has some rust to shed, but his return Sunday night in top-ranked UNC’s 97-75 win against Rutgers adds to the depth of a team that’s off to the most dominant start in school history.
Ginyard, who underwent surgery in early October to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, played 11 minutes in his first appearance of the season. He had three points, four rebounds and two steals during three stints in which the Tar Heels (12-0) outscored Rutgers by 13.
“I’ll do that for the rest of the year if we’re going to continue to get better and start to play to our potential,” Ginyard said. “From day one (playing time’s) never been something that’s bothered me or that I’m worried about. Team-first here. That’s probably not even in my first 15 thoughts.”
Tyler Hansbrough, who became the seventh player in UNC history to grab at least 1,000 career rebounds, had 26 points and 10 boards against Rutgers. Ty Lawson scored 19 points and dished out six assists without committing a turnover, but the Scarlet Knights (9-4) shot 48 percent to post the highest mark against the Tar Heels this season.
UNC, which scored 20 points off Rutgers’ 19 turnovers, led 69-57 midway through the second half. It broke a tie with the 1992-93 national championship team by collecting its 12th consecutive double-digit victory to begin the season.
“The toughest thing defensively is to keep the other team’s field-goal percentage down as you gamble,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “Our gambling, trapping, pressuring defense got them to turn it over, but they made open shots that we gave them. I’m just greedy enough to want to do both of them.”
The addition of Ginyard is expected to give the defense a boost.
He received an ovation when Williams directed him to the bike for the first time midway through the opening half. Ginyard watched the action on a video board as he loosened up for four minutes, and the crowd erupted when he jogged to the scorers table.
He showed his value when he battled to keep a offensive rebound alive late in the half. The ball went out of bounds off a Rutgers player, and William Graves attempted a 3-pointer on the prolonged possession. Ginyard grabbed the airball and made a reverse layup.
Ginyard, struggling to catch his breath in the closing minutes of the game, provided a moment of levity when he failed to draw iron on a free throw.
“Just adding stuff to the blooper reel for me,” he said with a laugh. “I was just happy to be out there. What can you do?”
UNC teammate Danny Green followed the fans’ lead by clapping as Ginyard took the floor for the first time.
Ginyard’s absence gave Green an opportunity to become a starter, and he entered Sunday’s game as UNC’s fourth-leading scorer. He excelled against Rutgers with 18 points and five assists in 27 minutes, his third-highest total as a senior.
Williams said Ginyard is about 80-percent healthy at this point.
“We expect him to come in and do the things he’s been doing in the past,” Green said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect anybody; we don’t question anything that’s going to happen. Everybody’s coming back to being healthy, and it’s what everybody wants. When everybody’s healthy, I think that’s when we’re at our best.”