No. 9 North Carolina beats North Carolina State 79-70, maintains hold on 1st place in ACC

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina turned in a strong defensive performance and found a spark in a scrum against rival North Carolina State.

Harrison Ingram scored a season-high 22 points and the ninth-ranked Tar Heels appeared motivated following a feisty moment when the teams squared off in the second half Saturday, rallying from a 10-point deficit for a 79-70 win over N.C. State.

“When things got a little chippy, it ignited us as well,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “… I don’t mind chippy.”

Elliot Cadeau scored 15 points and RJ Davis, who put up a Smith Center-record 42 points Monday night against Miami, finished with 14 after being held to two in the first half. Armando Bacot added 13 points for North Carolina (23-6, 15-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its fourth straight game and maintained its hold on first place in the conference, ahead of Duke.

For Davis, going into the final week of the regular season with a chance for a championship is important after describing the past couple of seasons as a roller-coaster ride.

“Hopefully, we get it done,” he said.

Jayden Taylor hit five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points and DJ Horne scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half for N.C. State (17-12, 9-9), which lost for the third time in four games.

The Wolfpack was within 73-68 before Davis hit a pair of free throws followed by a jumper with less than two minutes remaining.

N.C. State shot 22.2% in the second half, going 0 for 15 during one stretch.

“That’s a long stretch where we just didn’t have anything,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said. “Some of it is on us. Obviously, our shots were not falling.”

The Tar Heels trailed 47-37 early in the second half before putting together a nine-point run — a stretch that included one possession without points when Bacot missed on an attempted dunk. During the run, there was also a post-whistle standoff between the teams, with officials separating angry players but not assessing additional penalties after a video review.

By then, momentum had shifted.

“I believe we let them get comfortable early,” Ingram said. “We took it away in the second half.”

N.C. State center D.J. Burns Jr. picked up his fourth foul with 11:28 remaining. Less than two minutes later, teammate Casey Morsell had four fouls and then fouled out with 7:41 left.

“A heckuva a boxing match,” Keatts said of trading runs.

N.C. State led 45-37 at halftime, buoyed by 57.6% shooting from the floor. That included going 7 for 11 from 3-point distance.

TIP-INS

Ingram, a transfer from Stanford in his first season with the Tar Heels, scored his career high of 24 points last season against Mississippi. This was just the second time this season he led North Carolina in scoring. … Taylor matched his second-highest point total of the season after his 24 points Tuesday at Florida State marked a season best.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: Already likely needing a strong showing in the ACC tournament to move onto the NCAA Tournament bubble, this game was a chance to make an impression. Instead, the Wolfpack dropped to 0-3 versus ranked opponents and fell to 4-6 in true road games.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels have won the first two games of a three-game homestand without dominating a pair of unranked opponents. But going from 10 points down to 10 points ahead in a span of less than 10 minutes was an example of the firepower North Carolina can display.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Host No. 10 Duke on Monday.

North Carolina: Host Notre Dame on Tuesday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball