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North Carolina meets Sacred Heart in season opener

Nov 14, 2006 - 2:44 PM Sacred Heart (0-1) at No. 2 North Carolina (0-0) 7:00 pm EST

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Tyler Hansbrough picked up much of the slack for North Carolina after the loss of many key players from the 2004-2005 NCAA title team.

Hansbrough looks to build upon an impressive freshman campaign as the second-ranked Tar Heels face Sacred Heart for the first time Tuesday in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Last season's Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, Hansbrough averaged nearly 19 points and eight rebounds to lead North Carolina to a 23-8 record, including victories in nine of its final 11 contests.

After losing to eventual Final Four team George Mason in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels hope newcomers Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson will be able to bring the same level of energy as Hansbrough did last season.

Although North Carolina has won 69 of its last 75 season openers, two of those defeats have come in the past five seasons. The Tar Heels fell to Hampton in 2001 and Santa Clara two years ago.

Coming off last season's 11-17 campaign, Sacred Heart missed 12 free throws and was outrebounded, 46-31, in Friday's 70-68 opening night loss to Fordham.

Ryon Howard and Jarrid Frye scored 14 points apiece and Tavio Hobson added 11 for the Pioneers, who shot just 35 percent (12-of-34) from the floor in the second half.

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