PHILADELPHIA (AP)- The pockets of Carolina blue brightened the bleacher seats at the ol' Palestra, and, boy did those top-ranked Tar Heels ever give their fans a reason to cheer.
The only part that dazzled coach Roy Williams almost as much as another blowout victory was the way every fan, even those tucked in the cramped corners of the 80-yeard gym, stayed until the end.
"They have an appreciation for college basketball," Williams said. "I love that part of it."
Tyler Hansbrough scored 29 points, Danny Green had 19 and No. 1 North Carolina easily held off Penn, 106-71 on Tuesday night.
"I love coming to places like this," Williams said. "I'm corny and old-fashioned, but I enjoy venues like this."
The Tar Heels, coming off an 86-77 win over Kentucky, are 8-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season. They won their first game at the Palestra, the basketball cathedral that's home to Philadelphia's Big 5, since winning the NCAA tournament's East Regional final in 1957.
"I always like playing in the old gyms like this," Hansbrough said. "I think it's good for us to come into this kind of atmosphere."
The Quakers (2-7) used some sensational shooting in the first half to keep the game close for about 15 minutes and send the sellout crowd of 8,722 into an upset-minded frenzy.
They tried to run with the Tar Heels, and that quickly morphed into a bad idea. North Carolina wore down the Ivy League's Quakers and got easy points on the break and off turnovers to control the second half.
North Carolina made 15 of its first 20 shots in the half and won its fifth consecutive game on a string of six straight away from the Smith Center.
Tyler Bernardini led Penn with a career-high 26 points,while Brian Grandieri had 17 points and a team-high six rebounds. They were the only players to reach double figures in the scoring column.
"Our focus and execution went out the window in the second half," Penn coach Glen Miller said.
Each Penn fan received a rally towel, and they could have used it to dry off in the steamy gym. The raucous fans lost most of their enthusiasm in the second half when the Tar Heels started to put this one away.
Wayne Ellington, a Philadelphia-area native who played high school games at the Palestra, sank an open jumper from the left side that gave North Carolina a 73-48 lead. Hansbrough followed a few possessions later with a thunderous dunk in the open court for a 24-point lead.
"There's a little pressure playing in front of your family and friends, but you get over it," said Ellington, who scored 13 points.
Quentin Thomas scored on a driving layup with 3:50 left to push North Carolina over the 100-point mark, 101-65.
"We got a little antsy," Bernardini said. "A lot of things came to us in the first half that didn’t seem to in the second."
Williams, whose picture from his days at Kansas is on a collage of coaching greats on the Hall of Fame-type concourse, could sit on the bench and enjoy this one.
That sure wasn’t the case in the first 20 minutes.
The Quakers played their best half of the year as they confidently kept pace with the up-tempo Tar Heels. Penn kept the deficit within 10 for most of the half and shot 57 percent from the floor -- 14 percentage points higher than its season average.
Andreas Schreiber’s 3-pointer pulled the Quakers within five midway through the half, and the crowd erupted like it was a Big 5 game during the city series' golden era.
“We came out with a decent game plan and good focus,” Miller said.
Hansbrough’s spin move on the baseline with 4:06 left put the Tar Heels ahead by 10 for the first time, 40-30.
The Tar Heels were smart and sharp with the ball. They shot 50 percent and made only seven turnovers compared to 14 for the Quakers. And when North Carolina did miss, like when Ellington missed a layup, it was no problem. Green was streaking behind his teammate and had the easy putback for a 48-34 lead.
The Tar Heels led 50-37 at the break.
“They had a lot of intensity and wanted to get some big defensive stops,” Ellington said.
Penn is back in action Saturday night, traveling to Monmouth to take on the Hawks. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.