CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—North Carolina has shown what it can do here against an overmatched opponent. The top-ranked Tar Heels will soon learn how they’ll respond when they leave their home state.
Tyler Hansbrough scored 26 points and Wayne Ellington added 19 to help North Carolina beat South Carolina State 110-64 Tuesday night, giving the Tar Heels another easy win before starting an extended road swing that will keep them away for nearly a month.
Danny Green had 15 points for the Tar Heels (3-0), who earned their second straight blowout win in the Las Vegas Invitational.
North Carolina’s players clearly feel good about their start, which began with a tough 72-68 win against Davidson in Charlotte followed by a 107-72 home win over Iona to open the invitational Sunday night. They’ll certainly need that confidence considering the six-game trip that awaits.
“We’ve always felt like every team is defined by their road play—if they’re going to play poised and under control said Marcus Ginyard, who had five points and seven rebounds. “It’s something that’s not new to this ballclub and it’s something that’s getting this team really excited. It feels a lot better for us to go in and beat somebody on their homecourt.”
The Tar Heels next face Old Dominion in Las Vegas on Friday, followed by a potential matchup with No. 6 Louisville in Saturday’s championship. From there, North Carolina travels to Ohio State, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Rutgers.
It will be the first time in coach Roy Williams’ Hall of Fame career as a head coach here and at Kansas in which his team played six straight regular-season games away from home. The Tar Heels return to the Smith Center to face Nicholls State on Dec. 19.
“It’s fine with me to get this experience over with early,” Hansbrough said.
At least they leave home on the right note. In fact, the game looked a lot like the Tar Heels’ rout of Iona, complete with another big performance from Hansbrough inside, four players scoring in double figures and another 100-point outing.
North Carolina’s perimeter pressure forced the Bulldogs (0-4) into 32 turnovers, leading to 35 points and plenty of transition scoring chances. That offset what Williams described as an uneven performance by the team’s halfcourt offense against S.C. State’s zone.
North Carolina shot 54 percent for the game, hit 29 of 39 free throws and led by as many as 49 points.
Everett Spencer scored 12 points to lead S.C. State, which managed an early 8-4 lead before being overwhelmed by North Carolina’s size and athleticism. The Bulldogs shot 40 percent and committed 31 fouls.
“Against a team like this, you must execute,” S.C. State coach Tim Carter said. “They are a great, great basketball team. They do things the right way, are extremely well-coached and we just couldn’t fight their pressure all night.”
Hansbrough turned in a typically dominating performance, going 7-for-12 from the floor and 12-for-14 on free throws with eight rebounds in just 20 minutes. Ellington finished one shy of matching career high for scoring, shooting 6-for-11 while hitting three 3-pointers.
Alex Stepheson added 11 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Lawson had nine points and eight assists.
The only lowlight came when senior reserve Quentin Thomas rimmed out a two-handed breakaway dunk to reach the 100-point mark. But Green ran downcourt for the rebound and scored on the stickback, giving North Carolina a 100-55 lead with 6:14 left.
When it was over, 11 Tar Heels had scored.
“These past two games, we’ve been playing well,” said Ellington, who also had four rebounds and three steals. “Everybody’s been getting up and down the floor and everybody’s getting the ball, and that’s big for us.”