Smith scored 17 first-half points and powered his team all the way back to within six with 3:24 to play in the first period. With the Wolfpack in striking distance, the Tar Heels responded with a 10-2 run to close out the half, stretching the lead back to 14 as the teams headed into the locker room.
With their lull out of the way and having weathered N.C. State’s run, the Tar Heels carried their momentum into the second half. UNC re-established its post presence and knocked down threes along the way, pulling away from the Wolfpack once and for all.
Who stood out?
While Smith exploded for 17 points in the first half, Joel Berry quietly knocked in 11 points of his own. While his scoring numbers didn’t quite match the Smith’s, Berry had an answer for every one of N.C. State’s crowd-lifting buckets. His three first-half 3-pointers helped to quieted the ruckus Wolfpack crowd and slow down the Wolfpack comeback.
Berry’s scoring catapulted UNC in the second half, helping the Tar Heels pull away for the eventual blowout. The junior’s offensive effort also helped him become the 75th player in UNC history with at least 1,000 career points.
But his impact was felt on the defensive end as well. Against a red-hot Smith, Berry’s on-ball defense ensured Smith couldn’t help his team to another spirited comeback.
When was it decided?
After allowing N.C. State back into the game in the first half, UNC roared back in the final minutes of the half to reclaim a double-digit lead. From that point on, the Tar Heels didn’t look back.
The lead would never reach single digits again, as UNC coasted its way to an eventual 24-point victory.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels advanced to 10-3 in the ACC, padding their edge atop the ACC standings a bit more. But more importantly, UNC bounced back after its 86-78 defeat at Duke last Thursday.
The Tar Heels were outrebounded in that matchup for just the fourth time all season, but they made their mark on the boards against the Wolfpack. UNC will need to continue its dominance in the paint as it enters the final stretch of the ACC slate.
Where do they play next?
After two games on the road, the Tar Heels will take on the Virginia Cavaliers at the Smith Center at 8:15 on Saturday.