North Carolina Basketball: 5 Best Single-Game Performances in 'Heels History
North Carolina's basketball program has produced some truly outstanding players. Inherently, the list of truly great single-game performances by Tar Heels is quite intimidating when you have to settle on just five.
In order to reduce such a daunting list, you can't simply go by the most points. Lenny Rosenbluth would probably take up all five spots for UNC. Clutch play, age and significance of the game all played factors in working it down.
But it is impossible for all of us to have the same opinion on such a small percentage of great games, no matter how you break it down. Let us know what performances you feel were left out.
On to the list.
5. Ty Lawson Breaks Steal Record in 2009 NCAA Championship
Ty Lawson Jacks 8 Steals
Putting Ty Lawson's performance in the 2009 NCAA Championship on this list may turn a few heads. But there is no doubt his record-setting eight steals played a huge part in North Carolina's 89-72 drubbing of Michigan State.
Lawson's speed punished teams on the break, and he gave himself more opportunities than usual in this title game.
Beyond the steals, Lawson also scored a game-high 21 points and shot 15-of-18 from the line. His 15 successful free throws are a UNC tourney record.
Did I mention he had six assists to just one turnover? That's pretty ridiculous, considering the turnovers he caused on the other end.
Wayne Ellington may have received the award for the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament, but this game belonged the 5'11" dynamo.
The entire 2009 NCAA Championship is available to view in the NCAA Vault.
4. Tyler Hansbrough Scores 40 Points as a Freshman
It didn't take long for North Carolina's all-time leading scorer to put his name in the record books. Tyler Hansbrough made an instant impact as a freshman at Chapel Hill, averaging 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds that season.
But he never had another performance quite like this one.
On Feb. 15, 2006, Hansbrough broke the ACC record for the most points in a game by a freshman, dropping 40 on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He also recorded 10 rebounds—six of which were on the offensive end.
"Psycho T" was absolutely unstoppable. He out-willed and out-muscled double-teams all day long—hence the moniker.
It's a good thing he was on his game, too. The Tar Heels were down by 20 at one point and trailed 55-42 at the half. They would eventually come back to win, 82-75, on the broad shoulders of Hansbrough and a determined defense.
Hansbrough was 13-of-17 from the floor on this historical night. The rest of the team was just 15-of-39. He also buried 14-of-19 free throws.
The ACC record would eventually be taken from him, but he still holds the record for the most points dropped in the Dean Dome.
3. Harrison Barnes Ties Tyler Hansbrough with 40 Point-Game
Harrison Barnes Puts Up 40
Just five years after Hansbrough's record performance, another Tar Heel freshman lit up the nets for 40 points. That freshman was Harrison Barnes, and he did it when the stakes were much higher.
Barnes scored the first two points of the 2011 ACC semifinals, but Clemson would soon take over. The Tigers led the rest of the way, until Tyler Zeller tied the game at 73-73, with just three seconds remaining.
But it was Barnes' clutch trey at the 1:23 mark that set up Zeller's game-tying shot. It was also every point he scored prior to that.
Barnes shot 12-of-17 from the floor, while the rest of the team was just 18-of-45. He was also 6-of-8 from downtown and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Four of those free throws came in the final 17 seconds of overtime to seal the victory. The overtime period was all Barnes, as he scored 14 of the Tar Heels' 19 points.
There were many magic moments and clutch shots from the Black Falcon during his two-year stint in Chapel Hill. Perhaps not as many as fans had hoped for from the No. 1 overall recruit of 2010, though.
But on this night, Barnes wasn't passive. He showed Tar Heel Nation exactly what he was capable of.
2. James Worthy Leads Tar Heels to Second Title
1982 NCAA Championship Highlights
When most people think about the 1982 NCAA Championship, Michael Jordan's game-winner is the first thing to pop in their heads. Jordan had 16 points in the game, but nobody scored more than James Worthy.
Worthy dominated, going 13-of-17 from the floor and scoring 28 points—the most by a Tar Heel in a championship game. It wasn't just his scoring, either.
Worthy had three steals in the game—the final one would seal the title for the Tar Heels. Shortly after Jordan's shot, Worthy intercepted a pass from Georgetown's Fred Brown and tried to dribble out the clock before he was fouled with two seconds to play.
His two missed free throws was the only real knock on Big Game James' stellar performance. In the end, Georgetown simply didn't have enough time to get off a shot.
James Worthy's performance in the title game helped earn his Most Outstanding Player award for the 1982 NCAA tournament. And his record for most points by a Tar Heel in the title game still remains intact.
The entire 1982 NCAA Championship is available to view in the NCAA Vault.
Charlie Scott Scores 40 to Take Down Duke in ACC Championship
Charlie Scott's name will forever be a part of the history books, as he was the first African-American scholarship athlete at North Carolina. But Scott was much more than just that.
He was fast, dynamic and a game-changer. But of all his spectacular performances as a Tar Heel, few come close to what he did in the 1969 ACC Championship.
And not only was it the ACC title game, it was also against bitter rival Duke.
Point guard Dick Grubar went down in the first half with a season-ending injury, forcing Scott to be the primary ball-handler for Dean Smith's Tar Heels. History says that worked in Carolina's favor.
Duke was leading 43-34 at the half. The Blue Devils continued to hold the lead, pushing it to 11 points with 17:18 to go. Then Charlie Scott happened.
Scott buried the next six field goals for UNC, tying the game at 56 with less than 13 minutes to play. The teams held tight, but Scott eventually proved to be too much for the Blue Devil defense.
He would score 40 points on 17-of-23 shooting from the floor, propelling his squad to an 85-74 victory.
The 1969 ACC Championship victory was just the fourth of 17 tourney titles in North Carolina's history. But Scott's 40 points remain the record for the most by any player in an ACC title game.
It is certainly the greatest game by any Tar Heel in any of their 32 ACC Championship Game appearances.
And it's possibly the best single-game performance in the history of North Carolina.