CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – N.C. State has entered the second meeting against North Carolina with a chance to sweep the season series only four times since Roy Williams returned to Chapel Hill in 2003. Each time the Tar Heels slapped back at the Wolfpack, and Saturday was no different as Williams’s squad built its largest halftime lead of the season in its 86-76 victory at the Dean E. Smith Center.
The Tar Heels (10-5, 5-3 ACC) won for the fifth time in six games before entering their most difficult stretch of ACC play with four road games in their next five. UNC turned in its most efficient half of the season to take a 43-33 lead into halftime and maintained a comfortable double-digit margin until late, when a 7-0 Wolfpack run cut the score to 72-66 with 4:24 to play.
The Tar Heels responded with a 14-8 spurt over the next 3:48 to secure the victory.
Armando Bacot (17 points, 8 rebounds) and Day’Ron Sharpe (16 points, 10 rebounds) alternated in dominating the post, while Caleb Love continued his solid play with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting with five assists despite five turnovers. Anthony Harris and R.J. Davis also reached double figures, scoring 10 points apiece. Devon Daniels led the Wolfpack with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
UNC shot a season-high 54.4 percent from the floor, while NCSU shot 47.0 percent. The Tar Heels outrebounded the Wolfpack, 44-30, and managed a 17-12 edge in second-chance points. N.C. State held a 17-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
In the second half against Wake Forest on Wednesday, the Tar Heels set a season high with their 54.8 percent shooting effort (17-of-31). That high was short-lived as UNC shot 56.8 percent in the first half against N.C. State. The Tar Heels scored 43 points on 43 first-half possessions, which marked their best points per possession in an opening half this season.
UNC shot 51.6 percent after halftime to mark the first time all season it has shot better than 50 percent in both halves in a game (only the eighth half shooting better than 50%).
Struggles Continue for Brooks
Senior forward Garrison Brooks fouled out with 1:20 to play with four points on 2-of-5 shooting and four rebounds. The ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year is averaging 9.0 points on 36.8 percent shooting in eight ACC games this season.
A year ago, Brooks led the ACC in scoring (18.8) and ranked second in field goal percentage (53.5) in conference play.
History vs. N.C. State
UNC has won 33 of its last 38 and 50 of its last 62 games against N.C. State. Roy Williams improved to 38-5 all-time against the Wolfpack.
The Tar Heels improved to 28-7 against N.C. State at the Smith Center and have won 16 of their last 18 at home in the series.
ARMANDO. BACOT. REJECTION. pic.twitter.com/6nHT26xUmo
— Trevor William Marks (@twmarks_) January 23, 2021
Puff Johnson did not play against the Wolfpack after suffering a toe injury during practice on Friday. The freshman wing is wearing a protective boot on his right foot.
Sterling Manley also remained in street clothes for the 15th straight game this season. The junior center has missed 48 consecutive games due to a left knee injury.
UNC begins a three-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Tuesday (7 p.m./ACCN). The Panthers (8-2, 4-1 ACC) have built their success on solid defense as they rank second in ACC games in effective field goal percentage defense (44.2).