RALEIGH, N.C. – Harrison Barnes scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to help No. 19 North Carolina pull away late to beat North Carolina State 75-63 on Wednesday night.
Fellow freshman Kendall Marshall added 14 points for the Tar Heels (21-6, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were in a tough fight against their nearby rival before Barnes got rolling. The freshman missed all six shots in the first half, including an airballed jumper that had the rowdy Wolfpack fans on his case.
But Barnes roared back in the second half, hitting a key jumper to ignite a clinching 17-7 run that sent the red-clad crowd heading for the exits. He also stuffed home a pair of misses from teammates in transition, then calmly buried a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and give North Carolina a 67-59 lead with 1:52 left.
C.J. Leslie had 13 points to lead N.C. State (14-13, 4-9), which lost to the Tar Heels for the 10th straight meeting.
And while the Wolfpack played with enough intensity to make the latest meeting worthy of the longstanding rivalry, this one ended the way seemingly all of the other ones have since Sidney Lowe took over in Raleigh: with the Tar Heels celebrating as the horn sounded.
Lowe won his first game against the Tar Heels, roaming the sideline in a striking red blazer while his Wolfpack earned an 83-79 win four years ago. But North Carolina hadn't lost to N.C. State since, taking nine straight meetings by an average margin of 16 points.
That included last month's meeting in Chapel Hill, where the Tar Heels jumped to a 13-2 lead, never let the Wolfpack get closer than nine points and led by double figures for the final 33 minutes in an 84-64 win.
This time, North Carolina rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half and led by as many as nine in the second half before N.C. State staged its own rally to tie the game with about 10½ minutes left. But Barnes knocked down a jumper to make it 56-52, then Tyler Zeller tipped in a miss from Barnes on the next possession. Dexter Strickland followed that with a pullup jumper in transition to push the margin to 60-52 with 6:16 left.
Minutes later, Barnes caught John Henson's missed shot and dunked it home with both hands, then threw down a miss from Strickland that made it 64-56 with 3:41 left.
Zeller — who battled foul trouble and steady double teams all night before finishing with 11 points — provided a punctuation mark by dunking a miss from Barnes to make it 70-59 with 1:01 left.
That came shortly after Lowe was whistled for a technical foul, perhaps a sign of the frustration bubbling over for a team that appeared within reach of its best win of a disappointing season.
The rivalry game even had some extra interests outside the Triangle region where the schools are separated by about 30 miles. The game was televised in Shanghai, the first NCAA regular-season game broadcast in China.