North Carolina rallies past WinthropNov 16, 2006 - 2:27 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina is not making it easy on itself so far.
Tyler Hansbrough scored 20 points and the second-ranked Tar Heels used three 9-0 runs to overtake Winthrop, 73-66, in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
North Carolina got a tougher test than expected in Tuesday's opener against Sacred Heart, but it looked to be in serious trouble against the Eagles, who returned four starters from last season's NCAA Tournament team.
A two-time defending Big South Conference champion, Winthrop led by as many as 12 points in the first half and nine early in the second half.
"It was like an NCAA Tournament game intensity-wise," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "They (Winthrop) came out with a lot of intensity. I challenged our team at halftime and in the second half we came out and matched their intensity, especially on the defensive end."
Indeed they did. The Tar Heels were rattled by the shooting of Torrell Martin, who made six 3-pointers in the opening half in leading the Eagles to a 38-26 lead en route to a 38-30 advantage at the break.
Once North Carolina tightened up its defense, Winthrop got out of its offensive flow and kept launching 3-pointers.
The Eagles had made 8-of-13 from the arc in the opening half, but connected on just 6-of-23 in the second and settled for 3-pointers on 23 of their 32 shots after halftime.
"We just didn't make smart decisions," Martin said. "They pressed us and trapped us on defense and we had some turnovers that resulted in easy points for them."
Winthrop went ahead, 45-36, just over three minutes into the second half on Martin's seventh and final 3-pointer of the game. He was just 2-of-9 after his brilliant opening 20 minutes.
"I just tried to take him out of his comfort zone," Tar Heels sophomore Marcus Ginyard said. "He looked really comfortable in the first half. I just tried to get up closer on him, be aggressive, try and get him frustrated."
North Carolina responded with its first 9-0 spurt to forge a 45-45 tie on freshman point guard Ty Lawson's 3-pointer with 13:43 to play.
After the Eagles regained the lead on back-to-back baskets by Craig Bradshaw, the Tar Heels ran off the next nine points to move ahead to stay, 54-49.
Mike Jenkins buried two consecutive 3-pointers to bring Winthrop within 56-55, but Lawson, a 5-11 speedster, scored on a three-point play to start another 9-0 tear that finally broke it open.
"I think we definitely got tougher after tonight's game," Hansbrough said. "We really had to dig in and have more intensity. Now we have a better idea of what it takes. It was very physical out there."
Hansbrough, last season's Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, added 10 rebounds and made 9-of-13, shooting over 50 percent for the 27th time in 33 career games.
Freshman forward Brandan Wright scored 12 points and Lawson and Wayne Ellington had 10 apiece for Carolina, which shot 54 percent (29-of-54).
Martin scored 25 points - 20 in the first half - for Winthrop (2-1), which shot 40 percent (26-of-65).
"We're used to playing in big stages like this," Winthrop's Chris Gaynor said. "But they got on a little run and the crowd got into it and they got the momentum. I'm proud of our team's effort, we fought really hard against the number two team in the nation."
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