ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Tyler Hansbrough was greeted by his grandmother
as he walked off the team bus, spent some time visiting with his
brothers and sisters, and then got to work.
North Carolina's star sophomore forward had 15 points and
matched his career best with 13 rebounds, making his homecoming a
big success in the second-ranked Tar Heels' 69-48 victory over
Saint Louis on Friday night.
"It's a lot of pressure on a youngster to come back home and
have half the town up here from Poplar Bluff," coach Roy Williams
said. "Everybody expected him to score 80 and get every rebound
and shut out his man."
Danny Green added 14 points and Brandan Wright and Ty Lawson
each had 12 for the Tar Heels (10-1), who pulled away from a
one-point halftime lead. The result was a convincing win in the
program's first game in St. Louis since Williams led them to the
NCAA title here in 2005.
The game drew a record sellout crowd of 22,539 to the Scottrade
Center, and it was bolstered by several thousand Carolina-blue
wearing faithful that nearly turned it into a neutral site. Among
the crowd were about 3,000 fans from Hansbrough's hometown of
Poplar Bluff, Mo., a town of about 16,000 near the Missouri boot
"A lot of people who watched me in high school got a chance to
see me play in college, which is really great for them,"
Hansbrough said. "I'm really glad we got to come here and play."
All the visiting fans did not surprise the Billikens, who lost
for the first time in six home games.
"I guess we kind of expected it with Hansbrough coming back so
close to his hometown," guard Kevin Lisch said.
Ian Vouyoukas had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Saint Louis
(9-3). He guarded Hansbrough much of the game, getting help from
double- and triple-teaming near the basket.
Vouyoukas thought Hansbrough got help from the officials.
"I think if he was a normal player he would have fouled out
about three times," Vouyoukas said. "He's untouchable,
Hansbrough hoped his homecoming wouldn't be a distraction and he
helped settle down North Carolina, scoring on a putback on the
third shot of a possession after the Tar Heels had missed their
first six shots combined with two turnovers. He earned his third
Saint Louis led by as many as six points in the first half
before North Carolina began to assert itself. The Tar Heels led
27-26 at halftime and were ahead by two points three minutes into
the second half before going on an 18-4 run.
Two straight baskets by Reyshawn Terry finished off the run that
made it 52-36 with 9:19 to go. The lead was at double digits the
rest of the way for North Carolina, which shot 29 percent in the
first half and 57 percent thereafter.
"Let's be honest, we got it going pretty good and they missed
some shots," Williams said. "They're a team that's going to be
reckoned with in conference and at the end of the season has a
chance of playing again."
Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg said North Carolina's depth
wore down his team.
"We couldn't stop them in the second half," Soderberg said.
"That was the grounds for my frustration."
Tommie Liddell added 13 points for Saint Louis, which shot only
36.5 percent and was 1-for-11 from 3-point range. North Carolina
finished with a 41-31 rebound advantage.
North Carolina trailed at home at halftime last December against
Saint Louis before winning 75-63, and needed a strong finish to
avoid it happening again. The Tar Heels ended the half on a 9-2 run
capped by Wright's three-point play with 1:26 to go that made it
The game was Saint Louis' first sellout since a 78-64 victory
over Kansas on Dec. 23, 1998, which produced the previous record
attendance of 22,527.
Williams won his only NCAA title at the crosstown Edward Jones
Dome, beating Illinois in the final.
"I love the town," Williams said. "We've had some big games