Marcus Paige gave North Carolina a lead and then Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier had shots to be the hero, but it didn't end well for the University of Louisville.
Paige hit a tough runner with 8.5 seconds left to give North Carolina a 72-71 lead. The Tar Heels survived after rallying from 13 down after Blackshear missed a three-pointer from the left corner and Rozier an off-balance putback at the buzzer.
Paige's layup capped a frantic comeback from 13 down in the final 8:30 after he had gone out with an ankle injury. Paige finished with 10 points in 4 of 12 shooting.
Rozier had 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead the Cardinals, while Chris Jones added 19 points five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
It was just the second loss of the season for the Cardinals and the first in three games of ACC conference play for U of L.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rozier was really good and almost led the Cardinals to a victory, but freshman center Chinanu Onuaku was sensational on both end for the Cardinals.
In 27 minutes, Onuaku was 3 of 4 from the field, hit both of his free throws and finished with eight points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
After struggling in recent weeks, U of L coach Rick Pitino said Onuaku had been practicing better and it showed. He was solid in the paint for the Cardinals.
"We couldn't ask for anything more from our five (position)," Pitino said after the game about the play of Onuaku.
KEY RUN (PLAY) OF THE GAME
It kickstarted an 8-2 run late in the game for UNC and was what Pitino called the "biggest play of the game," and it was a U of L turnover.
The Cardinals led 65-55 and had just made a stop on the defensive end and Onuaku came down with a rebound and was fouled.
Harrell took the ball inbounds and tried to lob it to Chris Jones, who had posted his man up just outside of the three-point line. The ball was stolen by Nate Britt, who dished to Paige for a three-pointer that was wide open.
"You can't do that," Pitino said of the Harrell pass.
The play was a huge momentum swing and gave the Tar Heels momentum on a run that pulled them to within 67-64 in the game.
THEY SAID IT
U of L coach Rick Pitino
"We did have a wide open shot. But the key play of the game Chris not running the press offense and Montrezl trying to lob him the pass. (Harrell) should have called timeout. We gave up a three there and that was critical."
"This one stings. We played a great game, there's no way around it. We just did not get the stops we needed to get to win on the road."
U of L guard Terry Rozier
"We had a good game, but all that's overlooked if you don't win. We'll get tested again. We just have to show what we can do."
A FEW TIP INS
****Jones now has 63 points in his first three ACC conference games this season. He scored 22 in each of the first two games.
****U of L's bench was outscored 20-0 by UNC. The four bench players who played were 0-for-4 with four rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
****While Mangok Mathiang didn't score in the game he did get the four rebounds, two blocks, two steals and played pretty solid on the defensive end in 12 minutes.
****Harrell scored nine points and had five rebounds in 38 minutes on 4 of 10 from the field. He still needs 23 points to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career.
****U of L hit 28 of 59 from the field, including 6 of 19 three-pointers. The Cardinals were 9 of 11 from the free-throw line.
U of L (14-2, 2-1) will host Virginia Tech (8-7, 0-2) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals have two games at home this week, also playing host to undefeated Duke on Saturday.