Jan. 30, 2007
North Carolina ventured outside of its conference its last time out and pulled off a convincing win.
Now, the third-ranked Tar Heels will try to carry that momentum back into the Atlantic Coast Conference as they host Miami on Wednesday.
North Carolina (19-2, 5-1 ACC) routed then-No. 17 Arizona 92-64 on Saturday, handing Wildcats coach Lute Olsen his worst home loss in 24 seasons as Arizona's coach. The victory was the Tar Heels' fourth straight since a 94-88 loss at Virginia Tech on Jan. 13 and their third straight on the road.
"North Carolina is very, very, very good, and will get even better with the number of young players that they have," Olson said.
The win was more impressive considering that freshman Brandan Wright and backup sophomore swingman Marcus Ginyard missed the game because of stomach illnesses. Wright ranks second on the team with both 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, who had 14 points Saturday, leads the Tar Heels with 18.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
"I think it is a big statement about how deep our team is, that we have guys on the bench who can start and we can still win a game like this," said forward Deon Thompson, who replaced Wright and scored 14 points.
Freshman Ty Lawson added a season-high 18 points for the Tar Heels, who rank second in the nation with 87.8 points per game. Lawson was coming off a 15-point performance in North Carolina's 88-60 win at Wake Forest three days earlier, and was named the ACC's rookie of the week.
"We are absolutely ecstatic we got the win, but realistically we caught them on a day when the ball wouldn't go in," coach Roy Williams said. "We feel as lucky as can be to beat a great program in a game like this when they didn't shoot the ball well."
Now, the Tar Heels are returning home, where they have won 15 straight dating to last season. North Carolina's last defeat at the Dean Dome was an 87-83 loss to Duke on Feb. 7.
However, Miami managed to win in Chapel Hill last season, beating the Tar Heels 81-70 on Jan. 14, 2006. North Carolina leads the all-time series between the teams 9-2.
The Hurricanes (9-12, 2-5) have dropped their last four games, including a 92-85 defeat to the Hokies on Jan. 23 in their last outing. Miami has been outscored by an average of nearly 17 points during its slide.
Dennis Clemente had a team-high 24 points against Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes have not won since a 63-58 victory at Maryland on Jan. 10.
"The first 10 minutes we were not competitive," coach Frank Haith said. "We saw some positive things from our guys but we just could not get over the hump."
Jack McClinton, who had 18 points against the Hokies, leads the Hurricanes with 16.1 points per game.