CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Harrison Barnes scored 23 points and No. 8 North Carolina used smothering defense to rally from an eight-point deficit in the second half and beat Miami 73-64 Wednesday night.
The Tar Heels, who came in leading the nation with 83.5 points per game, shot only 38 percent and went 5 for 18 from 3-point range. But they forced turnovers on four consecutive possessions in the second half to get back in the game, and held Miami without a point for nearly five minutes down the stretch.
North Carolina (22-4, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) took a half-game lead over Duke and Florida State atop the league standings. Miami (15-9, 6-5) lost to the Tar Heels for the 18th time in their 20 meetings, including two defeats this year.
John Henson had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for the Tar Heels, who beat Miami for the 10th time in a row. Tyler Zeller was held to nine points, seven below his average, and shot 4 for 13. But North Carolina outscored Miami 14-6 off turnovers.
Durand Scott scored 15 points for Miami, and Kenny Kadji added 13 points and seven rebounds. But Malcolm Grant's shooting slump continued, and he finished 1 for 6 and scored three points.
The Tar Heels sank only five 3-pointers, all in the final 16 minutes. They fell behind 44-36, then used defense to rally.
Turnovers by Miami helped North Carolina score eight consecutive points and make it 44-all. Barnes' 3-pointer moments later gave the Tar Heels their first lead since early in the opening half.
Another 3-pointer by Barnes put North Carolina ahead by five for the first time, 58-53.
Kadji's 3-pointer for the Hurricanes cut the margin to 63-58 with 6:10 left, but they then went cold. Reggie Bullock's 3-pointer put the Tar Heels up 67-58, and they sank four of six free throws in the final minute to sew up the win.
Fan chants of "Aus-tin Ri-vers" in the final minute failed to rattle the Tar Heels. Rivers hit a 3-point buzzer-beater last week to cap a furious rally and help Duke beat North Carolina.
The near-capacity crowd of 7,071 was Miami's largest at home this season. Coach Jim Larranaga and his players visited campus dorms Monday, passed out chicken wings and T-shirts and encouraged students to attend the game.
Three-pointers by Scott, Trey McKinney Jones and Grant helped Miami build its biggest lead of the first half at 31-22. The Tar Heels went 0 for 6 from 3-point range in the opening half.
North Carolina reserve guard P.J. Hairston returned after missing one game with a sore left foot. He played eight minutes and scored four points.