CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 26 points to help No. 5 North Carolina beat Texas 82-63 on Wednesday night.
John Henson added 14 points for the Tar Heels (11-2), who won their fifth straight and avenged last season's last-second loss to the Longhorns.
North Carolina went on a 13-1 run to build a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never looked back, turning a 39-23 halftime lead into a 24-point margin late in the game.
Barnes was coming off consecutive nine-point performances, but the sophomore looked far more active and assertive against the Longhorns by attacking the rim or posting up on shorter defenders. He made 9 of 15 shots and finished with 10 rebounds, part of UNC's 49-34 advantage on the glass.
J'Covan Brown was one of three players with 16 points for Texas (9-3), which shot just 35 percent and never recovered from a slow start.
It was a far more focused performance by North Carolina after looking flat and disinterested during Monday night's 50-point win against Nicholls State. The Tar Heels showed just enough spark in the second half of that one to talk coach Roy Williams out of an early morning practice the next day, while Williams said he didn't do a good job of getting his team ready to play.
The Tar Heels looked ready this time around — perhaps partly due to what happened in last year's meeting.
The Longhorns had beaten North Carolina in each of the previous two Decembers. Last year, Cory Joseph hit a turnaround jumper with 1.4 seconds left to help Texas win 78-76 in Greensboro, about an hour west of Chapel Hill. Two years ago, the Longhorns won 103-90 in Cowboys Stadium.
In fact, Texas had won the past four meetings dating to 1995, including a 78-75 win over the Tar Heels in the second round of the 2004 NCAA tournament to end Williams' first season with his alma mater.
The game also marked the return of Texas coach Rick Barnes, a North Carolina native who rankled fans in the Smith Center during four visits as Clemson's head coach from 1995-98.
But there just wasn't the same kind of spice from those days, which included Barnes jokingly threatening to shed his suit jacket and enter the game because he had just four players left late in an incredibly physical matchup in 1998. Instead, there was only North Carolina running off a flurry of highlight-reel plays midway through the first half to charge up the crowd and take control.
First came freshman P.J. Hairston bowling over Julien Lewis for an emphatic one-handed transition slam that knocked Lewis to the court. Hairston missed the free throw, but John Henson stuffed home a missed stickback from Tyler Zeller to send the crowd into another roar.
On the next possession, Henson tapped a pass-ahead from Kendall Marshall in traffic to Reggie Bullock for a layup that pushed it to 30-16 with about 5 minutes left in the first half.
The Longhorns had won seven straight and were holding teams to an average of 54 points and 33 percent shooting during that stretch. They had also outrebounded opponents by nearly 17 per game in the past four, though they couldn't continue that success against the Tar Heels and got no closer than 13 points the rest of the game.