Ty Lawson scored a career-high 26 points and Tyler Hansbrough had 20 points and 11 rebounds before leaving when he hit his head and No. 1 North Carolina beat Rutgers 93-71 on Sunday night.
Hansbrough, the preseason national player of the year, tried to take a charge from Earl Pettis with 5:47 to play and the Tar Heels leading by 23 points.
Hansbrough went to the floor in a sitting position and then hit the back his head against the knee of a television cameraman and then the bottom of the basket support. He stayed down on the floor for a couple of minutes before being helped up by coach Roy Williams and the trainer and being taken to the locker room. Hansbrough didn't return.
"A little dizzy," Hansbrough said when asked how he felt. "I took a pretty good blow when I fell but I'm feeling better. The cameraman was sitting close to the floor and I fell back into him."
Hansbrough was asked if he lost consciousness.
"I don't remember," he said. "They said that maybe I have a mild concussion but they're not sure yet."
Williams said Hansbrough had a concussion and then sounded like a coach complaining about the lack of a call on the play.
"First time in the history of college basketball a guy got a concussion with no foul called and that better be all I say," he said, laughing.
The Tar Heels (9-0) are off to their best start since 1997-98 when they won their first 17 games on the way to the Final Four.
Freshman Corey Chandler had 23 points for the Scarlet Knights (7-4), who had won three of their last four, the loss coming at Nebraska.
"There is a reason they are ranked No. 1 in the country," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "They're a tough team to slow down. The game plan was to control tempo, but that's a very difficult thing to do. We did it to the best of our ability but that's a very deep and talented team."
Rutgers, which came in averaging 65.8 points, spread the floor of offense, trying to use as much of the shot clock as possible. It was a great strategy against a team like the Tar Heels, who came in averaging 89.9 points.
The problem for Rutgers was that its young guards had trouble completing passes 25 to 30 feet from the basket. The Tar Heels picked them off to start easy fastbreak baskets that allowed them to pull away early.
North Carolina finished with 14 steals and Rutgers committed 20 turnovers, which the Tar Heels converted into 30 points.
Lawson had five steals - he was only credited with four - that he turned into layups, including a three-point play that made it 39-23 with 2:26 left in the half. That play was part of a 9-0 run that gave North Carolina its first 20-point lead, 43-23 with 1:24 left.
"Ty's a jet for us," Hansbrough said of the sophomore guard whose previous career high was 23 points this season against Old Dominion. "He kept us going tonight and played real well."
North Carolina scored 21 points off Rutgers' 12 first-half turnovers and the Tar Heels had 10 fastbreak points. Because the Scarlet Knights were playing their deliberate offense, they managed just two points off turnovers and didn't have a point on the fast break.
The Tar Heels opened the second half on an 8-2 run to go up 55-28 with 17:48 to play.
Their largest lead was 73-44.
Hansbrough was 6-for-15 from the field but went 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
"He made Tyler change so many more of his shots than I've ever seen anybody make him change," Williams said of Rutgers' 6-11 sophomore Hamady Ndiaye. "But to feel he didn't have a great game. He's 20-11. That's pretty good."
This was the last of four straight road games and six in a row away from home for the Tar Heels. They started their trip with wins in Las Vegas over Old Dominion and Brigham Young and then beat Ohio State, Kentucky and Pennsylvania on their homecourts.
It was also North Carolina's first game after taking 12 days off for final exams.
The last time North Carolina played a game in New Jersey the Tar Heels left feeling as bad about a loss as a team could. They had a 10-point lead with 6 minutes left over Georgetown but lost in overtime in the East Regional final at the Meadowlands, about 40 miles away.
"I haven't thought about that yet but it is what it is," Hansbrough said of the loss to Georgetown.
"We're trying to put that past us," Lawson said. "Still, Coach brings it up and we still cringe thinking about it so we all put it past us."
Hansbrough was one of the players many expected to leave early for the NBA, but the 6-foot-9 forward returned for his junior year, one of the biggest reasons the Tar Heels were No. 1 in the preseason poll, a spot they have held onto.
It was the Tar Heels' ninth straight win in the series. The Scarlet Knights won the first meeting between the schools in the 1920-21 season. North Carolina beat Rutgers 87-48 at home last season.
The loss was Rutgers' first in seven home games this season and it dropped the Scarlet Knights to 0-10 against teams ranked No. 1.
The highest-ranked team the Scarlet Knights have ever beaten was No. 6 West Virginia on Feb. 27, 1982.