SMITH CENTER/CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina probably didn't need a week off to prepare for lowly Georgia Tech, but the Tar Heels used their time away to address several team deficiencies and played with renewed vigor on Saturday afternoon to destroy the Yellow Jackets 104-74.
After the club's disastrous second half collapse against Maryland a week earlier, the Tar Heels focused on playing better defense and working more effectively on offense, passing up perimeter shots in favor of feeding the post and attacking the offensive glass.
Tyler Hansbrough rebounded from a subpar performance in College Park, lighting up the Yellow Jackets for 28 points (10-for-13 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Danny Green also needed to get back on track, and his 23 points and six boards served as a reminder of how he was playing a month ago.
Meanwhile, emerging ACC player of the year candidate Ty Lawson scored only four points, but he dished out 11 assists against only two turnovers. It was Lawson's determination to distribute the ball that spearheaded a team effort that led to 26 assists.
The Heels got just five assists in the defeat to Maryland, so obviously a major coaching point of emphasis during the week was to play more selflessly.
"I told (Lawson) in the locker room that may be as good as I've seen a point guard play when he didn't score a field goal," Roy Williams said. "We emphasized the 16 really, really, really bad shots we took up at Maryland."
Carolina's defense was better as well. Tech shot a respectable 45 percent from the field, but the Heels coaxed them into 18 turnovers and out-rebounded their Atlanta opponents 45-31.
All that good news aside, it must be noted that Georgia Tech is a poor team this season. You don't always get that blunt a description in the daily paper, but it's true. Tech took a lot of poor shots, committed numerous unforced errors and time and again failed to get back in transition defense, a sure way to get blown out by high-octane UNC. There's a reason the Yellow Jackets are just 1-13 in conference games.
As a footnote, Hansbrough set another record — this one a national record. He hit all eight of his free throw attempts and now has made 907 during his career, passing Dickie Hemric for first place.
This week, the Heels will face much more stern competition. They'll travel to Virginia Tech on Wednesday and face a club that is playing for its NCAA Tournament life, then return home on Sunday to face rejuvenated Duke on senior day.
Incidentally, if you have not been laid off from your job and have the interest, you can buy an upper level ticket to the UNC/Duke game for the low, low price of $343 on Stubhub.com. Or, you can buy a ticket for $1,000-plus and sit in the lower level.
To see the UNC/Georgia Tech box score, click here.