Heels Cruise Past Pack, 80-68

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Brice Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 7 North Carolina beat North Carolina State 80-68 on Wednesday night.

Justin Jackson added 17 points for the Tar Heels (23-5, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shook off a slow start and an early 13-point hole to extend their recent dominance against their nearby rivals. UNC has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 11 of 13 on the road under coach Roy Williams.

The Tar Heels entered this game alone in first place in the ACC, just ahead of No. 12 Miami. This win will keep them in control, though they still have games at No. 3 Virginia this weekend and at No. 15 Duke in the next week's regular-season finale.

League-leading scorer Anthony ''Cat'' Barber scored 32 points for the Wolfpack (14-14, 4-11), who started fast but quickly sputtered.

North Carolina ran off a 14-0 run as part of a 28-6 burst to erase a 23-10 hole and suck the energy out of N.C. State's rowdy home crowd, and it held the Wolfpack without a basket for the last 9-plus minutes of the opening half.

The Tar Heels then shot 52 percent after the break, running off nine straight points after the Wolfpack had closed within four to stretch the lead back to double figures.

UNC controlled the glass and got to the line 13 times after halftime to stay in control, leading by as many as 19 points.

Johnson's double-double was his ACC-leading 17th, while Jackson was 7-for-12 shooting with six rebounds while getting his fifth straight double-figure scoring output.

Barber came in averaging 23.1 points and had managed just nine points - one of only two single-digit scoring games this year - in last month's meeting in Chapel Hill. He blew past that number quickly with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the opening 8 minutes, including a jaw-dropper of a crossover dribble against Nate Britt to bury the 3-pointer that pushed N.C. State to the 23-10 lead.

But just as quickly, N.C. State went cold. And that's when North Carolina's offense found its own rhythm, while its defense ran a series of defenders at Barber to keep him largely in check the rest of the night.

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TIP-INS

UNC: Marcus Paige had huge games in his last two visits to Raleigh, averaging 29 points and seven assists on 57-percent shooting. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting. ... Sophomore Theo Pinson had a good outing with seven points and three rebounds off the bench while helping on the defensive effort on Barber. ... UNC finished with a 43-36 rebounding advantage.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack shot 37 percent. ... Abdul-Malik Abu had 15 points. ... Caleb Martin added 11. ... The Wolfpack made 6 of 22 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

UNC travels to No. 3 Virginia on Saturday.

N.C. State travels to Syracuse on Saturday.


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