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December 31, 2008

Heels knock off Nevada to ring in New Year

RENO, Nev. -- Tyler Hansbrough scored 22 points to lead top-ranked North Carolina to a 84-61 victory over Nevada on Wednesday night and keep the Tar Heels undefeated with a school-record 13th straight win by double figures.

Wayne Ellington added 15 points and Ty Lawson had 11 points and seven assists for North Carolina (13-0), which trailed early but put together a 10-1 run midway through the first half capped by Hansbrough's 3-pointer to take control of the game.

Freshman Luke Babbitt had 22 points, Armon Johnson 15 and Malik Cooke 13 for Nevada (7-6), which trailed 41-27 at the half and shot only 35 percent from the field on the game.

Hansbrough made 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-10 fee throws. It marked the seventh straight 20-point game for North Carolina's career scoring leader, who also had three rebounds to move past Brad Daugherty into a tie with Mitch Kupchak for fifth on the school career rebounding list.

Nevada opened a 14-12 lead while holding Hansbrough scoreless for the first 8 minutes of the game, but he made a pair of free throws to spark the 10-1 run that put the Tar Heels up 22-15 8:47 before the half.

He followed a 14-foot jumper with a slam dunk and two free throws and Ellington nailed a 3-pointer from the corner just before the halftime buzzer.

The Tar Heels took their first 20-point lead when Ed Davis made two free throws after Nevada coach Mark Fox was whistled for a technical foul to make it 54-34 with 14:19 left in the game.

They went up 71-48 when Hansbrough scored seven straight -- on a 3-point play, a two-handed dunk and a basket inside with 6:20 remaining.

No opponent has come closer than 15 points against these Tar Heels, who entered Wednesday night's game averaging 95.8 points per game and winning by an average margin of 26.8.

They are riding a 39-game regular season winning streak against non-conference foes and open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday at home against Boston College.


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