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Hansbrough, Lawson help UNC rout Michigan State

Dec 4, 2008 - 6:37 AM DETROIT (Ticker) -- Whether it's playing a team from the Big South or the Big Ten Conference, North Carolina continues to dominate opponents in convincing fashion.

Tyler Hansbrough returned from injury and had 25 points and 11 rebounds as top-ranked North Carolina crushed No. 12 Michigan State, 98-63, at Ford Field on Wednesday.

Wayne Ellington scored 17 points and Ty Lawson added 17, eight assists and seven steals for the Tar Heels (8-0), who have won their eight games by an average of 30.4 points.

Michigan State was supposed to present more of a challenge, but the team appeared to have nothing left after playing three contests in four days in Orlando, Florida.

"We played decently on defense in the second half, but we faced a team that had three straight games in Florida and coming back," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "They have some guys banged up to begin with, but we did some nice things there's no question about it."

Hansbrough did not play in North Carolina's 116-48 destruction of North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday due to the lingering stress reaction in his right shin and a sore left ankle.

"The problem we've been concerned with the last two games at least has been his ankle, not his shin," Williams said. "He hurt his ankle in the Santa Barbara game and that's been more of a factor in deciding whether to play him or not play him. It was looser today and it had gotten better for him."

But last season's consensus National Player of the Year looked healthy against the Spartans as North Carolina just missed topping the 100-point plateau for the third straight game.

Leading by six late in the first half, North Carolina outscored Michigan State, 16-8, over the final 5:55 to take a 53-39 lead at the break.

"I think I'll start out with giving North Carolina a lot of credit," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "They played well. They made some shots. I was actually pleased with a lot of the things we did in the first half, but I thought Lawson hit two dagger threes in the first half from very deep that I hadn't seen him do."

Hansbrough scored six quick points and the Tar Heels dominated the second half, seemingly breaking the Spartans' spirit early after the intermission.

Michigan State was held without a point for over six minutes during a 12-0 run as UNC opened up a 67-41 bulge with 13:23 remaining. The Spartans missed nine straight shots from the floor during that span.

The deficit was far too much for Michigan State, which just could not keep up with North Carolina's quickness off turnovers and long rebounds.

"I know it will sound like it's an excuse, but we were just dead," Izzo said. "We had no legs. I thought the start of the second half, Raymar Morgan had the shot early in the second half and we had two shots in and out, and then after that it just went downhill."

Hansbrough was 6-of-13 from the floor and made all 13 of his free throws to notch his first double-double of the season.

After shooting better than 50 percent in the first half, the Spartans connected on 20 percent (7-of-35) of their shots over the final 20 minutes.

"There's no way our defense caused them to shoot 20 percent," Williams said. "I hope that our substituting and us trying to force the pace and making teams go up and down the court, might have had something to do with it."

Raymar Morgan scored 21 points and Chris Allen had 16 to lead Michigan State (4-2), which made 4-of-17 from the arc.