CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Danny Green matched his career-high with 20 points and sparked the decisive second-half spurt Sunday night to help No. 1 North Carolina beat Valparaiso 90-58.

Tyler Hansbrough had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Tar Heels (13-0), who got off to a fast start only to see the Crusaders hang around before finally putting the game away with a big second-half run. North Carolina is off to its best start since winning 17 in a row to start the 1997-98 season.

Jarryd Loyd scored 14 of his 24 points in the first half for Valparaiso (10-3), which fought back from an early 17-point deficit to tie the game early in the second half.

But the Tar Heels’ stepped up defensively while controlling the boards to turn this game into the latest in a series of lopsided victories.

Deon Thompson finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five blocks, while Green continued his solid – yet often overlooked – play this season. Averaging 12.6 points off the bench this year, the 6-foot-6 junior went 8-for-10 from the floor and 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

Green also had four rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocks in 20 minutes.

North Carolina has been on cruise control since a tough 72-68 win against Davidson to open the year, repeatedly rolling up big-margin victories and cracking the 100-point mark in crowd-pleasing fashion. That included a 35-point win against UC Santa Barbara last weekend and a 36-point win against Nevada on Thursday.

The Valparaiso game started the same way, with North Carolina scoring the game’s first 13 points and taking a 19-2 lead in the first 9 minutes. The Crusaders, behind Loyd’s big half, survived the early blast and fought their way back to within 36-31 at halftime before tying it at 37 early after the break.

But the Tar Heels responded with a 27-2 run over 81/2 minutes that made this game end up looking just like all their others in recent weeks.

Green came up big with 11 points and three 3s during the decisive spurt, which ended when reserve Will Graves knocked down a 3-pointer followed by a jumper from the left corner to make it 64-39 with 8:57 to play.

Valparaiso’s only basket during the run was Loyd’s layup off an inbounds pass with 13:45 left.

North Carolina shot 51 percent and took a 47-31 rebounding advantage while holding the Crusaders to 11-for-32 shooting after the break.

It was North Carolina’s first game without key reserve Bobby Frasor, who is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee against Nevada. The injury robbed the Tar Heels of a versatile junior who can play either guard position, and North Carolina’s depth at the point was further depleted because senior Quentin Thomas sat out with a sprained left ankle suffered in Friday’s practice.

The injuries forced junior swingman Marcus Ginyard, the team’s top individual defender, to spend time at the point behind Ty Lawson.

AP-ES-12-30-07 2153EST

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