Tar Heels Basketball: UNC stays unbeaten in the ACC after win over NC State


You better believe the North Carolina Tar Heels remember last season’s disappointing loss to North Carolina State at home. On Saturday, the Tar Heels got a little revenge from their rival down the road.

North Carolina used a second half surge to beat the Wolfpack 67-55 and remain unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference (5-0) and move to 16-2 on the season. From the start the Tar Heels looked sluggish as they were getting dominated on the boards. At one point the Wolfpack had six offensive rebounds to the Tar Heels 3 total rebounds and flashbacks of last season’s loss started to appear.

But then like they’ve done so many times in the past, the Tar Heels geared up and made a run.

Behind Kennedy Meeks’ 18 second half points, the Tar Heels outscored the Wolfpack 38-26 in the half after the teams were tied at 29 going into halftime. It was the first start for Meeks since returning from a leg injury that caused him to miss seven games. Meeks finished with 23 total points, but his second half damage helped the Tar Heels push ahead.

The Tar Heels needed a big performance from someone as their stars, Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, combined for just nine points. The low-scoring performance for Paige is his second in as many games, but fans shouldn’t worry as Carolina has enough depth to overcome performances like this.

The win means the Tar Heels sit alone at the top of the standings and are the only team without a conference loss in ACC play. It’s their best start to the conference season since the 2000-01 season when they started 11-0.  The loss moves the Wolfpack to 0-5 in ACC play, their worst start since the 1996-97 season.

Three quick things we saw

Tar Heels shooting struggles

We touched on the struggles of both Paige and Johnson, but overall the Tar Heels shot poorly. The Tar Heels shot a season-low 37.7 percent from the field, topping their previous season low of 44.8 percent against Northern Iowa back in November.

If it wasn’t for Meeks’ 10-of-16 shooting from the floor, that percentage might have dipped below 35 percent. The struggles started early and continued. We’ve seen them struggle from the three-point line in the past an on Saturday it was no different. The Heels finished just 5-of-20 from three-point land, one big reason why they fell in an early hole.

Kennedy Meeks knee

Meeks returned from a leg injury just a week ago against Syracuse as he came off the bench. Saturday marked his first start since December and he played well. But towards the end of the game, Meeks walked gingerly to the bench and seemed to be favoring his knee. There’s no word of an injury yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on this week.

UNC puts the clamps down on Barber

Coming into the game Wolfpack point guard Cat Barber was theACC’s  leading scorer at 22.5 points per game. On Saturday, the Tar Heels did a great job of limiting him to just 9 total points. He finished just 5-of-13 from the field and never really established any rhythm in the Wolfpack’s offensive flow.

Part of his game is to get to the free throw line and convert on his attempts. On Saturday, Barber didn’t get to the line once.