Thanksgiving Eve Hoopula: UNC Reinforces No. 1 Ranking

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer INovember 26, 2008

A cornucopia of great action in New York City and Maui Wednesday night. The final round of the Maui Invitational and semifinal action in Preseason NIT took center stage.

Turkey of the Night

(1) North Carolina 102, (8) Notre Dame 87

The Tar Heels established pretty clearly that they are the best team in the country with a dominating win over Notre Dame. The speed of Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough's offensive efficiency had the Irish struggling to keep up with UNC.

Down two points early, North Carolina went on a 26-9 run to jump out to a 15-point lead that the Fighting Irish could only trim to 10 entering the half.

The second half was more of the same, as UNC used an 18-9 run to open the half and bury the Irish.

The Tar Heels did something few teams have been able to do, and that's contain Luke Harangody. The junior center didn't have a lot of legs left, playing his third game in three days. Harangody posted a subpar 13 points and eight rebounds.

North Carolina won its third Maui Invitational Title in the last 10 years.

Cranberry Sauce of the Night

(13) Oklahoma 77, UAB 67

With the game teetering on getting away, down eight early in the second half, Blake Griffin decided he was going to take over. In a three-minute stretch, the super sophomore scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds. UAB didn't have an answer for the OU center all game. Griffin put up an astounding 32 points and 15 rebounds.

A late 17-2 run finally put the Blazers to bed, but UAB showed it'll be a team that will compete with Memphis for the Conference USA crown.

Griffin didn't have to do it all himself either. Tony Crocker and Cade Davis both supplied four three-pointers to establish the Sooners' inside-outside game.

UAB controlled the first half behind fifth-year senior Paul Delaney III and went into the break up five points.

Pumpkin Pie of the Night

Indiana 81, Chaminade 79

Yes, Indiana University, the Hoosiers, Bobby Knight's former program, needed to survive a missed buzzer beater to defeat a Division II team. The Hoosiers jumped out to a 9-0 lead but could never put the Silverswords away, and a missed free throw with seconds left gave Chaminade's Noah Gottlieb enough time to hoist an air ball at the buzzer.

Indiana leaves Maui as the seventh-place finisher in the Maui Invitational.

The Stuffing

(7) Texas 70, Oregon 57

Damion James and the Longhorns buried Oregon early with a 21-1 run and never looked back. James had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

This game as a whole was pretty ugly early. Between the two teams, it took eight free throws for one of the teams to make one. Texas took home third place in the Maui Invitational with the win.

(9) Purdue 71, Boston College 64

The Eagles and Boilermakers went back and forth in the first half, but a 15-2 run early in the second half buried Boston College. E'Twaun Moore had 19 points for Purdue, and Tyrese Rice led BC with 17. The Boilermakers advanced to the final of the Preseason NIT.

Alabama 58, St. Joe's 48

In the fifth-place game in the Maui Invitational, the Crimson Tide picked up a hard-fought, sloppy, ugly, and slow-paced victory over the Hawks. Alonzo Gee led the way for Alabama with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Interesting little factoid about the St. Joe's Hawk: The person in the Hawk suit is on full scholarship and flapped his wings approximately 11,000 times over the last three days.

Lehigh 76, Rutgers 71

So much for the Scarlet Knights being a much improved team that's ready to at least compete in the Big East. Rutgers has now lost consecutive games to St. Bonaventure and Lehigh, Atlantic-10 and Patriot League teams respectively.

From the Lehigh perspective, the Mountain Hawks are off to a nice 4-1 start and look like they might be able to challenge reigning league champ American for the conference title.

Chefs of the Night

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

After sitting out against Chaminade on Monday, Hansbrough was well rested entering Wednesday's game against the Irish. His freshness showed early and often. The reigning National Player of the Year tallied a team-high 34 points.

Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish lost by 15, but it would have been close to a 30-point loss if McAlarney didn't go off from long range down the stretch. For the game, the senior guard dropped a career-high 39 points and hit a school-record 10 three-pointers.

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

The Sooner center showed NBA scouts why he should he be the number one pick in the 2009 NBA draft against UAB. With his 32 points and 15 rebounds, Griffin now has a double-double in every game this year. His 15 rebounds actually dropped his rebounding average by a full rebound.

Marquis Hall, Lehigh

The junior led the Mountain Hawks' upset of Rutgers Wednesday night with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists. Five of Hall's 28 points came in the final minute.

Joel Smith, Chaminade

The Silverswords couldn't pull off an upset, but Joel Smith led Chaminade all the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The senior also drilled four three-pointers.

Quick Look ahead to the Thanksgiving Day Games

(12) Tennessee vs. Siena, Noon on ESPN2

The Volunteers face their first tough competition of the year with a neutral court matchup with the Saints in the first round of the Old Spice Classic. Siena returns all five of its starters from last year's conference championship winning team.

(24) Wake Forest vs. Cal-State Fullerton, 4:30 on ESPN2

The Demon Deacons will showcase stud sophomores Jeff Teague and James Johnson, as well as a trio of five-star recruits in their frontcourt. The winner gets the winner of the St. Mary's-UTEP matchup.

(6) Michigan State vs. Maryland, 7:00 on ESPN2

Two very well coached squads, one with national championship aspirations, the other with hopes of just making the NCAA Tournament, will tip-off in the third game of the opening round of the Old Spice Classic.

Baylor vs. Providence, 11:30 PM on ESPN2

Two of the most underrated teams in the country, Baylor and Providence, will square off in the final game of the opening round of the 76 Classic. The Bears play a very up-tempo, three guard offense based around the superior guard play of sophomore LaceDarius Dunn and senior Curtis Jerrells.


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