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November 25, 2008
Heels advance to Maui finals
Tyler Hansbrough was back for a second game and No. 1 North Carolina will be playing for a third title on Maui.LAHAINA, Hawaii --
The reigning player of the year, who missed three weeks of practice and three games with a leg injury, had 16 points to lead the Tar Heels to a 98-69 victory over Oregon on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
North Carolina (5-0) will play No. 8 Notre Dame on Wednesday night in the championship game. The Fighting Irish beat Texas (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) 81-80 in the semifinals in the season's first matchup of Top Ten teams.
Here comes the second.
Hansbrough scored 13 points in 25 minutes last Friday in an 84-67 win over UC Santa Barbara after missing games for the first time in his college career because of a stress reaction in his right leg.
He tweaked his left ankle at the end of the game against the Gauchos and didn't play in the Tar Heels' 115-70 opening-round win over Chaminade.
That wasn't a real surprise because coach Roy Williams had indicated he wouldn't play the senior in all three games on Maui.
Williams said after the Chaminade game that Hansbrough would have played if it "had been for the national championship."
Against Oregon, Hansbrough looked like the player known as "Psycho T," drawing plenty of contact down low on both offense and defense and diving on the floor for loose balls.
He finished 12-for-14 from the free throw line---proof he wasn't avoiding contact in his 19 minutes.
Hansbrough had 12 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes as the Tar Heels took a 51-22 halftime lead over the Ducks (3-2), a young team that looked good in a 92-69 first-round win over Alabama but just couldn't stay with the nation's unanimous No. 1 team.
Danny Green had 21 points and freshman Ed Davis had 11 points and 13 rebounds for North Carolina, which led by as many 37 points in the second half.
Michael Dunigan had 18 points to lead Oregon.
North Carolina led 22-12 when it went on a 13-0 run that started with a 3-pointer by Green and ended with a 3 by Larry Drew II with 7:03 left in the half.
The Ducks missed nine shots during the run, including five underneath the basket where Hansbrough led the Tar Heels' impressive defense that held Oregon to 8-of-38 shooting (21.1 percent) in the half.
North Carolina won the Maui Invitational in 1999 and 2004 and finished second in 1989 and 1995.
A third title would put them one behind Duke, which is 12-0 in the tournament.