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Ingram's season-high 22 points lead UNC men's hoops to 79-70 win over Wolfpack

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) dunks the ball in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024 in the men’s basketball game against N.C. State.

The No. 9 UNC men’s basketball team (23-6, 15-3 ACC) erased an eight-point halftime deficit for a 79-70 gritty victory over N.C. State (17-12, 9-9 ACC) Saturday at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Junior forward Harrison Ingram led the Tar Heels with 22 points, a season high. N.C. State shot just 22 percent from the field in the second half, and UNC outscored the Wolfpack by 17.

“We stepped up,” head coach Hubert Davis said. “I felt like we were making [N.C. State] work so hard to be able to get a shot that it was allowing them to miss shots.”

Both teams came out throwing haymakers from the tipoff. Ingram scored seven points in the first five minutes, including an electric one-handed jam. But after the slam, DJ Horne responded with a deep 3-pointer. The Tar Heels led 13-11 at the first timeout. 

After nine lead changes in the first eight minutes of action, UNC’s briefly stretched the lead to six at 26-20. First-year guard Elliot Cadeau hit a tough shot from long range before throwing a perfect, cross-court pass to a cutting Ingram for a transition layup.

But the Wolfpack kept pace offensively and then some — shooting 58 percent from the field and 64 percent from deep in the first half. A 3-pointer from Mohamed Diarra that rattled around before hanging on the rim and falling in gave N.C. State a 37-36 lead just before the under-four timeout. 

That three was part of a 14-1 Wolfpack run to end the half. It led 45-37 at the break behind 16 points from Horne. 

“[N.C. State was] running their offense like they do in shootaround,” Hubert Davis said. “Getting wide open shots. We weren’t impactful, physical on the ball.”

N.C. State stretched the lead to double digits early in the second half before UNC rattled off a 9-0 run to get within one.

Cadeau tied the game, soaring to the tin for an and-one layup, and senior guard RJ Davis gave the Tar Heels the lead back with a 3-pointer. UNC led 54-52 at the under-12 timeout with N.C. State having missed 12 field goal attempts in a row.

“I feel like when you bring energy, it makes up for the mistakes you make,” Ingram said.

The Tar Heels then built a 10-point lead with just under 10 to play through seven made free throws. The lead hovered around that mark for the next six minutes, but N.C. State cut the lead to five with 2:49 to play.

A slicing Cadeau layup with under a minute to play sealed the deal for North Carolina.

“This game meant a lot to us,” Cadeau said. “One of our goals is to win the ACC.”

The Tar Heels return to the Smith Center Tuesday for a match up against Notre Dame on senior night.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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