for this game

Hansbrough returns home, helps UNC top St. Louis

Dec 23, 2006 - 6:11 AM ST LOUIS (Ticker) -- Tyler Hansbrough made sure his trip home was a productive one.

Hansbrough scored 15 points as second-ranked North Carolina captured its seventh straight win with a 69-48 victory over St. Louis.

A local legend at Poplar Bluff - which is about 150 miles from St. Louis - who finished his high school career with consecutive state championships, Hansbrough displayed his normal high-energy game in front of numerous family and friends, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and pulling down 13 rebounds.

"I wasn't trying to get caught up in things outside the game," Hansbrough said. "It was great to see a lot of my family and friends at the game. A lot of people that watched me in high school got a chance to see me in college, which is great for them.

"I did feel more pressure than usual because I wanted to impress a lot of my close friends and family who may not get a chance to see us play in Chapel Hill."

Apparently, the 6-9 forward's return proved to be very popular, as a crowd of 22,539 filled Scottrade Center, a school record for St. Louis.

"I wish it was like that every time," Billikens center Ian Vouyoukas said. "It was a great atmosphere. The crowd was really into the game."

Although the Tar Heels (10-1) missed their first six attempts from the field and shot 29 percent (10-of-34) in the first half, Hansbrough helped carry his team, scoring the first four points and nine before halftime.

Hansbrough did have a tough guarding the 6-10 Vouyoukas, who had 10 of his 14 points in the first half.

"He's a different type of player than I've faced," Hansbrough said. "He's one of those guys that you can't give an angle. He's a European player who is skilled and is very crafty. That's something different than I'm used to guarding."

The reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, Hansbrough found freshman forward Deon Thompson for a jumper and added a layup moments later to close UNC within 24-22 with 4:07 left in the first half.

The Tar Heels grabbed just their second lead of the game at 27-26 on a three-point play by freshman Brandan Wright with 1:26 to play, an advantage that lasted into intermission.

"I told them at halftime that I didn't think we should be behind," St. Louis coach Brad Soderberg said. "We had a meltdown in the last five minutes of the half, taking bad shots and panicking against their traps."

In the second half, Hansbrough hit a jumper for a 34-30 edge with 17:43 remaining, and UNC put together an 11-0 spurt to pull ahead, 52-36, with just under 9 1/2 minutes to play.

Overall, the Tar Heels shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the second half, including 5-of-9 on 3-pointers,

"It was their offense," Soderberg said. "We couldn't stop them in the second half. That's the grounds of my frustration, and it still is.

"How can we go from holding them to 29 percent in the first half and 60 percent in the second half. That's not my idea of quality basketball. There are some reasons, and part of it is their depth wore us down."

Danny Green, who shot 4-of-5 on 3-pointers, finished with 14 points for the Tar Heels, who improved to 3-1 in the all-time series.

Wright and fellow first-year player Ty Lawson scored 12 points apiece for North Carolina, which held a 41-31 advantage in rebounding and 19-4 edge in second-chance points.

Vouyoukas shot 6-of-12 and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Billikens (9-3), who shot 37 percent (19-of-52), including 1-of-10 from the arc.

Tommie Liddell was the only other player in double figures for St. Louis with 13 points.

    --- --- -----
    NORTH CAROLINA (2) 27 42 69
    SAINT LOUIS 26 22 48 FINAL

    Dec 22 8:55 PM


    Dec 22 7:52 PM