Paige finished with 35 points -- 31 after halftime -- and seven 3-pointers for the Tar Heels (21-7, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their 10th straight. UNC needed every bit of that production to outlast the Wolfpack (17-11, 7-8) and league-leading scorer T.J. Warren, who had a career-high 36 points in a losing effort.
The Tar Heels were down 11 points in the first half and by six with 2 minutes left in overtime, but clawed back to win in a classic finish between nearby rivals.
After James Michael McAdoo scored with 30.5 seconds left to tie it, Warren had a chance to put the Wolfpack up two. But he went just 1 for 2 at the free throw line with 7.7 seconds left, setting the stage for Paige -- whose team was out of timeouts -- to drive the court and cut into the lane for a hanging layup over Warren for the lead. N.C. State's final desperation heave wasn't close, sealing the Tar Heels' 16th win in 17 meetings.
The Tar Heels are on a 10-game winning streak for the first time since February 2009. And the win inched them closer to earning a top-four seed in the ACC tournament in Greensboro and the double-round bye that comes with it.
For the Wolfpack, it was a potentially devastating loss for a team fighting to improve its NCAA tournament chances.
N.C. State appeared to have control by scoring the first six points of the overtime, all from Warren, and taking an 82-76 lead on Warren's basket over McAdoo with 1:34 left.
But Paige answered with a tough 3-pointer over Ralston Turner at the 1:25 mark, then hit two free throws with 41.6 seconds left to close the gap to 83-81 with 41.6 seconds left. The Wolfpack got the ball to Warren in the backcourt, but with McAdoo and freshman Nate Britt closing in on a trap, Warren bobbled the ball off his shoulder and out of bounds to set up McAdoo's tying basket.
Warren and Paige put on a show throughout the final 25 minutes. Warren finished 13 for 25 from the field and scored 26 points after halftime, while Paige finished 11 for 21 overall and 7 for 12 from 3-point range in 41 minutes.
It marked the 12th time this season Paige has scored in double figures after halftime after scoring four or fewer points in the first half. J.P. Tokoto added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who trailed by 11 points in the first half and 34-26 at halftime. UNC shot 50 percent in the second half and overtime, and even hit its last 10 free throws after a bad start at the line.
Turner finished with 16 points for the Wolfpack, who shot 47 percent.