The last time North Carolina hosted N.C. State in the Smith Center it ignited a blowout by holding the Wolfpack scoreless for 10 minutes.
This year the run was split in two but still just as effective. No. 3 UNC first reeled off 14 straight points before Wayne Ellington went on a personal 9-0 run a few minutes later to put Wednesday night's game away.
With the 89-80 victory in the Smith Center UNC — once 0-2 in conference play — tightened its stranglehold on the ACC.
UNC (24-2 10-2 in the ACC) led by just three at the break" but it only took those two quick runs shortly after intermission to create a cushion on the scoreboard.
""I think we were just attacking more" Ellington said. In the first half we were all kind of looking for our shot individually taking a lot of jump shots. In the second half" we were just attacking.""
Tyler Hansbrough led all scorers with 27" and Ellington" Danny Green and Ty Lawson each added 16 or more to deal N.C. State its sixth straight loss in the series.
""It's the mark of a good team"" N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said of UNC's quick second-half burst. It's a team of guys that understand the importance of making a run in those first five minutes.""
After eight first-half turnovers" the Tar Heels were efficient on the offensive end after the break. They only committed one turnover in the final 20 minutes — largely thanks to Lawson's 9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
After the game" UNC coach Roy Williams said the lack of turnovers was all that allowed UNC to stick with a Wolfpack team that shot 64 percent in the second half — a statistic his players heard about immediately in the locker room.
""Defensively we want to get a lot better" Hansbrough said.
They shot the ball really well. We need to pick it up defensively and improve on that end. Offensively we're playing well" but we need to improve defensively to be the kind of team we want to be.""
One Wolfpack player the Tar Heels did slow down in the second half was point guard Javier Gonzalez. After shooting 6-6 in the first period for 16 points" he was limited to just two more after the break.
With just less than three minutes remaining in a 17-point game" Hansbrough provided the exclamation point. He drove into the lane and was met — hard — by two N.C. State players.
Hansbrough walked toward the UNC bench and looked up at the crowd after a timeout was called.
""Hit me"" he yelled. Hit me.""
The Wolfpack kept hitting but to no avail as Hansbrough scored 25 or more for the 35th time in his career. He also passed Phil Ford's UNC career field goals record and Pete Maravich for second place in NCAA history in free throws made.
With four games remaining on the schedule"" North Carolina now holds a 2.5-game lead in the conference.
""Am I happy with our team? Darn right"" Williams said. Because we start out 0-2 and everybody's abandoning ship. And these kids were tough enough to handle the adversity.""
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