Freshman Tyler Hansbrough scored a career-high 40 points as well as setting UNC and ACC freshman records for points scored as 23rd-ranked North Carolina beat Georgia Tech Wednesday night, 82-75. Hansbrough bested his previous career high of 27 points, thoroughly dominating a defenseless Georgia Tech frontcourt. He also added 10 rebounds.
It looked like it was going to be an early night for much of the Tar Heel starters as Georgia Tech raced to a 20-point first half lead, led by former Charlotte Latin star Anthony Morrow's 18 first half points. But the Yellow Jackets and Morrow faded into the warm Chapel Hill night, letting their lead slip away to the Tar Heels, who lost their top 7 scorers from last year's national championship team to either the NBA or graduation. Morrow, who carried the Jackets to their largest lead, scored only four points in the second half, two on a basket with less than a minute to play in the Smith Center.
Speaking of the Smith Center, Hansbrough also set a Smith Center record with his effort of 40 points, and was only one point shy of the ACC high this season, set and equalled by Duke's J.J. Redick. The previous best in the Smith Center was scored by UNC's Joseph Forte in 2000, when he tallied 38 points. The previous freshman record at UNC was scored four times (Walter Davis, Mike O'Koren, J.R. Reid and Antawn Jamison) with totals of 31 points each. And then we move to the ACC record, where the previous freshman mark was held by Clemson's Skip Wise in 1974 (38 points). Hansbrough also became only the eighth Tar Heel to score 40 or more points. It was an impressive effort by the freshman big man.
Up next for North Carolina (16-6, 7-4 ACC) is a contest at rival Wake Forest, who has seen its program slip into the cellar of the Atlantic Coast Conference. But make no mistake about it, this will be a hard fought battle in Winston-Salem on Sunday. For Georgia Tech (10-13, 3-9), led by Anthony Morrow's 22 points, this is a tough loss to take after upsetting 21st-ranked North Carolina State last weekend, snapping an eight-game losing streak. They next take on Maryland on Saturday.
Carolina's win is their fifth in six games (the loss coming to Duke last Tuesday) and has moved them into a tie for third place in the ACC. Georgia Tech's loss is their ninth in 10 games, and drops them to 11th place in the ACC.