"He helped out a little bit," joked Poplar Bluff coach John David Pattillo. "He makes us a lot better -- there's no doubt."
His scoring performance came close to Tony Turner's school record of 42 set in 1989. He was 15-of-23 from the field, hit 8-of-10 free throws and pulled down 11 rebounds, leading the struggling Mules to their second win of the season.
"He's a great player," said Dexter coach Eric Sitze. "He's a kid that dedicates his life to basketball, and you can tell. He has really gotten bigger over the summer, put on some weight and has really added to his game."
Hansbrough's big night overshadowed a solid performance from Dexter's Derek Demaree. The 6-foot-6 senior kept the Bearcats in it most of the game, finishing with 23.
"I thought he did all right offensively, but I thought he could've done better defensively," said Sitze. "We talked about denying the ball to Hansbrough, and we didn't get it done. He did a little bit better of a job on him the second half, but then (Bluff) started getting penetration and dumped it down to him. That was our guards' fault. Defensively, we just didn't do as good of a job as we needed tonight."
Demaree showed his range early in the second quarter, burying a 3-pointer to give Dexter a 19-17 lead. Poplar Bluff fired back with a 25-14 run, highlighted by a thunderous Hansbrough dunk to put the Mules up 40-33 at halftime.
He had 27 points at the break.
"He's still behind conditioning-wise, but as far as his achilles goes, he's pretty stable," said Pattillo. "As a coach, you're looking at all the things that other people don't watch. There were three or four times he was in a bad position defensively because he hasn't practiced much. He had 11 rebounds, but maybe he needs to get 15 or 16. That's what goes through your mind as a coach."
The Hansbrough show continued in the second half as Poplar Bluff increased its lead to 15. Josh Miller kept the Bearcats in the game with three 3-pointers, and Demaree nailed a long-range jumper from the top of the key to shave the lead down to nine.
Hansbrough scored the final basket of the third quarter to make it 61-50 heading into the fourth.
Poplar Bluff (2-4) was able to get the lead back to 13, then Hansbrough's younger brother Ben brought the visiting crowd to its feet with a late slam dunk.
Ben finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Devon Brown scored 20 for the Mules.
"The Brown kid has been scoring for them real well this year," said Sitze. "Now, all those guys are going to score a few more points because everybody is going to be concentrating on Tyler so much."
The loss drops Dexter to 3-3 on the season. Behind Demaree, Miller finished with 13.
The Bearcats have been seeded first in the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament and will take on Richland Dec. 26 at 10 a.m.