No. 21 North Carolina held off N.C. State 96-89 on Saturday at PNC Arena behind 33 points and 17 rebounds from UNC junior forward Luke Maye.
Here is our coverage from the game:
An up-and-down game
In a fast-paced game full of big runs and offensive efficiency by both teams, it was Maye who came up the biggest, scoring 27 of his game-high 33 points in the second half as the Tar Heels took the lead early in the second half and held off feisty N.C. State.
The Tar Heels survived a 19-0 run late in the first half by the Wolfpack, which was led by Torin Dorn with 22 points.
‘I’m a way better dresser than him.’
N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts gave Maye kudos in his postgame news conference. “Luke Maye was really great tonight. He did a tremendous job.”
Keatts said he has had to adjust expectations for his team.
“We have become a very good basketball team,” he said. “You don’t accidentally beat the likes of Carolina, Arizona, Duke and Clemson with the way they’re playing this year. Now We’ve put ourself in a situation where we’re playing against some of the top teams in the country and we’re right there to win the games.”
About Keatts’ red blazer: “I love it. I wore it at the UMKC game at Reynolds. I knew (UNC coach) Roy (Williams) would come in here with his Carolina blue blazer. I didn’t want him to show me up. I’m a way better dresser than him.”
‘... they needed to grow up.’
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the game he was giving his team a chance to grow during N.C. State’s 19-0 run during the first half.
“I told them I was not going to call a timeout because State was kicking our rear ends because we weren’t competing and they needed to grow up,” Williams said. “We made a nice run to make it two or three at the half.”
On Luke Maye’s long 3-pointer: “I thought, ‘Oh my God,’ but the shot went in.”
Williams also said he has adjust practice since the Tar Heels are in the midst of a stretch of three games in five days. He said they practiced for “103 minutes on Friday” and would probably do so again on Sunday.
Was Maye provoked?
N&O columnist Luke DeCock writes that UNC senior forward/guard Theo Pinson believes some N.C. State players got Maye riled up, resulting in Maye’s 27 second-half points.
An unheralded Maye scored a then-career-best 13 points in the Tar Heels’ win over the Wolfpack last season at PNC Arena. Now one of the best players in the ACC, Maye’s 33 points beat the Wolfpack again this year.
An N.C. State fan was ejected from the game during the second half for making contact with UNC guard Brandon Robinson.
The fan was removed by arena security from his courtside seat to a second-level lounge but the fan continued behaving badly and was ejected from the building.
The Wolfpack’s road ahead
N.C. State reporter Steve Wiseman writes that N.C. State’s past two losses to Virginia Tech on the road and North Carolina at home won’t keep the Wolfpack out of the NCAA tournament but losing the next two games at Syracuse and at Wake Forest likely would.
The Pack has come a long way from being picked to finish 12th in Kevin Keatts’ first season. Getting better on the defensive end would help the Pack get closer to its NCAA goal.
A tournament primer
UNC reporter Joe Giglio writes that UNC senior point guard Joel Berry loves that the Tar Heels have won two games in three days because it mimics the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels will wind up playing three games in five days after hosting Notre Dame on Monday.
Berry also doesn’t regret saying that N.C. State isn’t a rival for North Carolina. He said his comments probably sold more tickets for Saturday’s game.
Sam Newkirk: 919-829-4526, @samnewkirk64