It wasn't always pretty for the Tar Heels, from 19 missed free throws to seeing the Wildcats swat away seven of their shots. Yet they managed to add another big name to their early wins against then-No. 1 Michigan State and then-No. 3 Louisville - all coming while top scorer P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out due to NCAA eligibility concerns.
Aaron Harrison scored 20 for Kentucky, which shot 41 percent and committed 17 turnovers. Heralded freshman Julius Randle struggled all afternoon, finishing with 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting.
Paige managed just two points in the opening half, coming on free throws when referee Roger Ayers whistled Kentucky coach John Calipari for a technical foul with 1.9 seconds left. But Paige turned in a huge second-half performance, providing the steadying hand North Carolina desperately needed as Kentucky kept trying to push back in front.
He knocked down a contested 3 over Randle to give UNC a 60-54 lead with 8:17 left, and then came up with an even bigger shot when he lofted a floater over shot blocker Willie Cauley-Stein with the shot clock winding down for a 70-65 lead with 1:41 to go.
Paige added an alley-oop pass in transition to Brice Johnson for a dunk, and then closed his afternoon by knocking down two free throws with 6 seconds left to make it a two-possession game. He finished 6 for 8 from the field in the second half and made all 10 of his free throws for the game.
McAdoo was also active. He made just 4 of 6 shots but was aggressive in attacking the paint and got to the foul line 19 times, making 12.
Tokoto finished 7 for 10 from the field, including a breakaway dunk off a long inbounds pass in the foul-filled final minute.
Kentucky was playing its first true road game of the year. Its two losses had come to ranked opponents, Michigan State in the Champions Classic last month and to Baylor in last week's SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Andrew Harrison scored 17 for Kentucky, while James Young added 16 before fouling out with 27 seconds left.