North Carolina is still a work in progress.
The Tar Heels turn the ball over too much and are making do without a true post option but Roy Williams’ team still knows how to beat N.C. State.
Senior Luke Maye scored 21 points to lead the 12th-ranked Tar Heels to a 90-82 win over the 15th-ranked Wolfpack on Tuesday night. Williams, in his 16th season at UNC, improved to 29-4 against N.C. State and 14-2 at PNC Arena.
“It was a heck of a night,” Williams said. “Glad to get out of here.”
The building was rocking for the first top-25 matchup between the rivals since 2006. The sellout crowd saw a slow start by N.C. State (13-2, 1-1 ACC). Braxton Beverly had a career-high 21 points off the bench and helped the Wolfpack fight back. N.C. State tied the game twice in the second half but never held a led.
Maye (11 rebounds) was one of three UNC (12-3, 2-0 ACC) players with a double-double. Cam Johnson had 15 points and 11 rebounds, despite missing much of the second half with cramps, and Kenny Williams added 21 points and 11 rebounds. UNC finished with a 51-33 rebound edge.
“We rebounded the heck out of it,” the UNC coach said. “I felt like if we won the rebounding, we would win the game.”
As promised by coach Kevin Keatts, N.C. State ran with UNC and bothered the Tar Heels with the press. The Tar Heels turned the ball over 23 times, so many that Williams joked he’ll see them in his sleep. But N.C. State went cold in the second half from the 3-point line (4 of 16) and went nearly 5 minutes without a field goal.
A 70-69 UNC advantage turned into 79-69 between made baskets by the Wolfpack between the 10:02 and 5:16 mark in the second half.
“We missed a lot of shots that we normally make,” N.C. State senior Torin Dorn said. “To win games, you have to make plays. We have to step and make shots and make plays down the stretch.”
D.J. Funderburk had 15 points off the bench for the Wolfpack and C.J. Bryce finished with 13 points and three steals.
The Tar Heels led 12-0 and 19-5 before Beverly got N.C. State in gear. Beverly made all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half and had 15 points. Funderburk added 13 points to give the Wolfpack a 35-0 bench scoring edge in the first half.
“We couldn’t get anything going at the beginning of the game, with missed shots, and then we battled back,” Keatts said.
State got as close as two points twice but Johnson’s productive first half, with six points, five assists and nine rebounds, kept UNC’s advantage at 47-42 at the half.
N.C. State tied the game at 47 and 53 in the first 4 minutes of the second half but each time Johnson responded with a 3 to give UNC some room.