CHAPEL Hill, N.C. – North Carolina’s rivalry matchup with N.C. State, which was delayed 17 hours due to hazardous driving conditions, was over not long after it eventually tipped off at the Smith Center on Sunday.
The Tar Heels turned a 6-4 lead into a blowout with a 37-8 run over a 10-minute, 53-second stretch in the first half. UNC averaged 1.4 points per possession on 53.6 percent shooting in building its 43-12 lead, while holding the Wolfpack to 0.4 points per possession on 25 percent shooting.
“It was the perfect storm,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said during his postgame press conference. “They were really good, and I think we were as bad as you can possibly be.”
UNC’s 56-23 lead at halftime was its largest of the season by nine points (Radford, 24). The Tar Heels continued its dominance after halftime, expanding its lead to 51 points with a 24-2 run.
With seven players scoring nine points or more, along with a stout defensive performance, UNC elevated its level of play once again to Maui Invitational levels.
“When we bring the energy and bring the passion, it’s hard to stop us,” junior point guard Joel Berry said. “Especially when we’re shooting the ball like we did tonight and playing defense the way we did. We can’t always expect our crowd to help us out. Sometimes it just has to come from within, and I think we did a great job of doing that today.”
Aiding in that development was the rivalry nature of this contest.
“I told the guys when we got in the huddle before we came in, ‘This isn’t just a regular game, this is different,’” junior wing Theo Pinson said. “And we came out and played hard from the jump.”
The 107 points are the most UNC has ever scored against N.C. State in 231 meetings. The 51-point margin of victory is the largest since UNC won 62-10 during the 1920-21 season.
Pinson made his season debut at the 13:47 mark of the first half and the Tar Heels holding a 19-4 lead. The Greensboro, N.C. native was sidelined for UNC’s first 16 games after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during preseason practice.
“It was good to get back out there and get the feel of the game again,” Pinson said. “I just wanted to let the game come to me.”
Pinson showcased his versatility in limited action, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out five assists and notching four steals in 13 minutes. He told reporters there was no apprehension with his foot during the game, and that it felt good during and after. The athletic training staff plans to incorporate several off days into Pinson's schedule to continue to transition back into full basketball activities.
Hot from Deep
UNC set a season high with 12 3-pointers on 27 attempts.
Justin Jackson led the Tar Heels with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including a 6-of-11 effort from long range. Sunday marked the third time in eight games Jackson has made at least six 3-pointers.
“Honestly, it’s just the preparation I had over the summer,” Jackson said of his improved 3-point shooting. “I’m confident in myself knowing that I put in that work that it would just translate into the game. The past two games before this I didn’t shoot the ball very well, but from the preparation that I’ve had, I have confidence in myself to just be able to knock it down.”
Winning the Post
N.C. State’s frontcourt rotation of Abdul-Malik Abu, Omer Yurtseven and Beejay Anya match up well with UNC’s bigs on paper, but it was the Tar Heels that held the decided advantage down low on Sunday.
UNC's post quartet outscored its counterparts, 40-14. Luke Maye outscored the Wolfpack's primary trio, 7-4, in the first half.
The Tar Heels also outrebounded the Wolfpack, 50-36 (17-10 OR), and outscored their opponent 22-6 in second-chance points.
N.C. State kept providing UNC with possessions due to carelessness with the ball, while the Tar Heels refused to return the favor. Turnovers, more than anything, sparked UNC’s lethal first-half run and prevented a second-half rally by its opponents from West Raleigh.
UNC scored a season-high 37 points off 26 Wolfpack turnovers. The Wolfpack managed 18 points off 12 Tar Heel turnovers.
Roy Williams improved to 31-3 all-time against N.C. State, including a 26-3 record at UNC.
UNC remains on Tobacco Road as it travels to Winston-Salem for a matchup with Wake Forest on Wednesday (8 p.m., ESPN2). The Demon Deacons are 10-5 (1-2 ACC).