CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tyler Hansbrough had 29 points and nine rebounds and No. 2 North Carolina pulled away in the second half to beat Sacred Heart 103-81 on Tuesday night in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Hansbrough, the leading vote getter on The Associated Press preseason All-America team, hit 11-of-14 shots and routinely scored over double teams for the Tar Heels (1-0), who advanced to play on Wednesday against the winner of the late game between Winthrop and Iona.

Reyshawn Terry scored all 18 of his points in the second half, while freshmen Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson scored 10 points apiece for North Carolina, which shot 59 percent to improve to 85-12 in season openers.

Luke Granato hit eight 3-pointers and scored 24 points and Drew Shubik added 13 for the Pioneers (0-2), who stayed with the Tar Heels for a half despite being undermanned down low.

North Carolina opened the season with high expectations as it returned four starters from last year’s 23-win team, but also had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Two of North Carolina’s McDonald’s All-American trio, Ellington and Wright, started and the third, Lawson saw significant time backing up point guard Bobby Frasor.

But Sacred Heart hit 6-of-13 3-pointers in the first half, including Tavio Hobson’s 3 at the buzzer, to cut North Carolina’s lead to 42-37 even though Hansbrough was 8-for-8 from the field.

Shubik’s 3 to start the second half cut the deficit to two, but the Tar Heels responded with a 19-5 run to take control by dumping the ball inside to Hansbrough.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore kept muscling his way through multiple defenders, and when he wasn’t scoring he was getting fouled, where he made 7-of-12 free throws. After one made basket that resulted in a 3-point play, Sacred Heart’s Liam Potter was left holding his arms up in the air in disbelief.

Terry then made three straight baskets – the last two thunderous dunks – to get the pro-North Carolina crowd on its feet.

The Tar Heels led by as many as 25 points after that and coach Roy Williams got to work on his intended fast-break style as 14 players saw time.

AP-ES-11-14-06 2139EST



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