Hansbrough breaks UNC scoring record

The Tar Heels and the Purple Aces play a game, but the attention is on record-setting UNC senior Tyler Hansbrough.

Staff WriterDecember 19, 2008 

  • 1. Tyler Hansbrough '05-present 2,302
    2. Phil Ford 1974-78 2,290
    3. Sam Perkins 1980-84 2,145
    4. Lennie Rosenbluth 1954-57 2,045
    5. Al Wood 1977-81 2,015
    6. Charles Scott 1967-70 2,007
    7. Larry Miller 1965-68 1,982
    8. Antawn Jamison 1995-98 1,974
    9. Brad Daugherty 1982-86 1,912
    10. Walter Davis 1973-77 1,863

— Since the day he stepped foot on North Carolina's campus, forward Tyler Hansbrough has been working to diversify his offensive resume by trying to extend his shooting range.

But it seemed appropriate that when it came time to break UNC's three-decades-old career scoring record during the top-ranked Tar Heels' 91-73 basketball victory over Evansville on Thursday night, the senior went back to an old staple: a workmanlike power move.

With 7:42 left in the first half at the Smith Center, Hansbrough muscled around Purple Aces forwards James Haarsma and Pieter van Tongeren to bank in a shot off the glass and score his 10th point of the game and 2,292nd point of his career. That basket broke the mark of 2,290 that point guard Phil Ford set from 1974 to 1978.

Hansbrough finished with 20 points and now has 2,302 for his career.

"It was very fitting -- three guys on him, he was moving to the basket, kind of off-balance, he banks it in with his soft hands," said Gene Hansbrough, who surprised his son by attending the game. "It was a perfect shot for Tyler to break the record on."

Point guard Ty Lawson also chipped in 16 points for the Tar Heels (10-0), though coach Roy Williams looked frustrated at times by his team's performance, particularly after Evansville's Shy Ely ended the first half with a dunk. That led the coach to stomp off the court despite the fact that his team led by 18 points.

The night, however, belonged to Hansbrough, who accepted the game ball and an embrace from Ford, now an assistant coach for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, immediately after setting the record.

After the game, Ford pressed his hands together and bowed to the big man at mid-court, congratulating him as fans in the sellout crowd -- some of whom held signs reading "Phil Ford 2,290" on one side and "Tyler 2,291+" on the other -- were on their feet for a rousing ovation.

"It's an honor to be compared in the same breath at Tyler," Ford said later. "When I see how hard he plays, and how he listens to Coach Williams -- as a player, that's why I tried to do."

Then Hansbrough -- who followed his record-breaking bucket with a missed dunk attempt that probably will make the team blooper reel -- choked up as he watched a montage of current and former players congratulate him on the accomplishment.

"I got a little emotional, because you may not know all those guys [in the video], but you've got a connection, because you played here and you're part of something that I consider a family," he said.

Hansbrough, who also grabbed nine rebounds, had already secured his place in Tar Heels history -- and in the retired jersey portion of the Smith Center rafters, near Ford -- by earning consensus national player-of-the-year honors last season.

Breaking such a long-standing record adds to his still-blooming legend.

Ford passed the likes of Lennie Rosenbluth, Charles Scott and Larry Miller because they could play varsity basketball for only three years. Antawn Jamison, Michael Jordan and Rashad McCants failed to pass Ford because they stayed just three seasons.

Then came Hansbrough, the sometimes awkward-looking big man from Poplar Bluff, Mo., who opted to forgo going to the NBA after his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons in order to try to win an NCAA title. Although he said he was a little nervous straying from the lane his rookie season, he actually scored his first Tar Heels bucket on Nov. 19, 2005, when he led a three-on-two fast break against Gardner-Webb that finished with his jump shot in the lane.

And he has barely slowed since, topping UNC's chart for all-time free-throw attempts -- he passed the 1,000 mark Thursday night -- en route to his latest record.

"I wanted it on a 3," Hansbrough said of the record-setting bucket, "but in a game, I realize you have to do what you have to do."

Which in his case, means playing with power and honing his improving finesse. If he remains healthy, the combination probably will help him become the ACC's all-time leading scorer, as well. Former Duke star J.J. Redick holds that mark with 2,769 points.

"I don't put anything past Tyler. If somebody tells me he's going to break the NBA scoring record -- boy, that's going to be hard -- but you never say never when it comes to Tyler," Gene Hansbrough said. "He's got a strong will."

And moves.

BRIEFLY: Danny Green (14 points) became the 61st player in UNC history to score 1,000 points when he buried a 3-pointer in the second half.

* Ely led Evansville (7-2) with 23 points.

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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