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November 8, 2008

Heels dominate exhibition despite missing Hansbrough

CHAPEL HILL - The last time North Carolina played a basketball game without Tyler Hansbrough, it ended with the Tar Heels cutting down the nets in St. Louis as the 2005 national champions.

This game clearly wasn't as big a deal as that, but it was still a win.

North Carolina beat UNC-Pembroke 102-62 in its only exhibition game before the start of the regular season, and it did so without Hansbrough, who is sidelined with a stress reaction in his leg.

"During the starting lineups, I don't think he knew where to go," senior guard Bobby Frasor joked.

The Tar Heels were also without Marcus Ginyard, Mike Copeland and freshman Justin Watts.

"It's a lot more fun when you look out there and have Tyler and Marcus," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "But we don't."

Six of the Tar Heels that Williams did have - including all five starters - scored in double figures against UNC-P, led by 16 points apiece for Danny Green and Wayne Ellington.

Carolina struggled early against the Braves, falling behind 8-2 in the opening minutes and not taking a lead until Deon Thompson scored on a turnaround jumper 5 minutes into the game.

Pembroke hung around despite a 9-0 run by the Tar Heels and pulled within one, 20-19, midway through the first half.

But from there, the Tar Heels broke it open.

Carolina scored 17 straight points as part of a 22-2 run - during which it held the Braves without a field goal for nearly six minutes - and went into the locker room leading 44-25.

The Tar Heels had a few moments of nice ball movement, as well as the occasional flashy dunk, but otherwise, this first public display for the 2008-09 squad was decidedly sloppy.

Carolina committed plenty of turnovers and had trouble getting the offense going early without the go-to option that Hansbrough brings.

Eventually, of course, UNC-P was simply outmatched, and the Tar Heels pushed their lead to as many as 42 points in the second half thanks to shooting 64.5 percent after the break.

The win was the first showcase for Carolina's freshmen, with the obvious exception of the injured Watts.

Point guard Larry Drew II had just two points but dished out six assists in his 14 minutes of action.

Up front, Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis tried to make up for the loss of Hansbrough with a combined 26 points and 12 rebounds. Davis also brought the crowd to its feet with a dunk that put UNC at the 100-point mark.

But none of that is the same as having Hansbrough back in the lineup, which the Tar Heels hope to do soon.

"It was a little different," Green said. "He's a big part of our team, but right now we've got to focus on what's ahead. That's life and we have to adjust to it."


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