- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

LAHAINA, HAWAII (AP) - Tyler Hansbrough looked like his old self and North Carolina looked like the unanimous No. 1.

The reigning national player of the year who had played in only two games this season because of leg injuries, Hansbrough had 34 points to lead the top-ranked Tar Heels to a 102-87 victory over No. 8 Notre Dame on Wednesday night in the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The title was their third in the 25 years of the tournament, second only to Duke’s four.

But what mattered more was that Hansbrough, who returned for his senior year, played at the level that made him the player of the year last season.

He was 13-of-19 from the field, hitting his shots down low, throwing down dunks and even making a 3-pointer. He grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots, including one by Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, like Hansbrough a preseason All-America.

It wasn’t all Hansbrough for the Tar Heels (6-0), however.

Point guard Ty Lawson had too much speed in the open court for the Fighting Irish (4-1) and he finished with 22 points and 11 assists. He was selected tournament MVP.

Deon Thompson had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who had a 44-36 rebound advantage and shot 55.7 percent from the field.

Harangody, who had to cover and be covered by Hansbrough despite being sick all day, had 13 points and seven rebounds. Kyle McAlarney picked up the slack, scoring a career-high 39 points on a wild shooting show that saw him finish 10-of-18 from behind the arc.

North Carolina shot 52.9 percent from the field in taking a 46-36 halftime lead, and the numbers were even better to start the second half. The Tar Heels built a 23-point cushion midway through the period.

But the Fighting Irish got to 84-73 behind McAlarney’s 3-point shooting. He hit another long one to make it 90-78 with 2:47 left only to have it answered by a three-point play from Hansbrough.

Hansbrough missed three weeks of practice and the first two games of the season as he recovered from a stress reaction in his right shin. He had 13 points in 25 minutes last week against UC Santa Barbara but he tweaked his left ankle at the end of that game and did not play in the Tar Heels’ 115-70 first-round win over Chaminade.

He had 16 points in 19 minutes in the semifinal win over Oregon, and coach Roy Williams said the decision on whether he would play against Notre Dame wouldn’t be made until he saw if Hansbrough had any pain during warmups.

North Carolina won the Maui Invitational in 1999 and 2004, and was the runner-up in 1989 and 1995. This was Notre Dame’s second appearance, with the Fighting Irish finishing sixth in 1993.

This game could have had a real family feel but North Carolina freshman Tyler Zeller, the younger brother of Notre Dame’s Luke Zeller, broke his arm against Kentucky and is out for the season, and Ben Hansbrough, the younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough, is sitting out this season at Notre Dame after transferring from Mississippi State.

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