UNC pulls away from NC State, 67-54, takes sole possession of first place in the ACC

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Thursday, January 11, 2024
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RALEIGH. N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina steadily pulled away from NC State in a hotly-contested Tobacco Road rivalry game, winning 67-54, to take sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings on Wednesday night.

RJ Davis scored 16 points and Harrison Ingram had a career-best 19 rebounds to help No. 7 North Carolina take over in the second half.

It was an intense, if often sloppy game, particularly for the Wolfpack, which was ice-cold from beyond the 3-point line. Kevin Keatts' team finished just 2-for-21 (9.5%) from behind the arc.

Freshman guard Elliott Cadeau added 11 points and six assists for the Tar Heels (12-3, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who grinded through a tough shooting night for both teams by finally stretching out a lead midway through the second half.

UNC ran off a 15-2 spurt, getting a terrific wraparound bounce feed from Cadeau to Armando Bacot for a dunk before the rookie made two free throws that put UNC up 63-48 near the 5-minute mark.

Davis, who leads the ACC in scoring at 20.6 points per game, overcame a 2-for-9 first half to score 11 points after the break - including a 3-pointer at the 4:06 mark to make it 67-50 and largely silence the Wolfpack's rowdy home crowd.

UNC won despite shooting 38%. N.C. State was worse, shooting just 26.9% for the game, and couldn't answer when UNC began to stretch its lead.

The Tar Heels led 30-28 at halftime but found their shooting rhythm and turned up their defensive intensity in the second half. Meanwhile, State's shooting struggles continued.

Casey Morsell led the way for the Wolfpack with 12 points and six rebounds. DJ Burns Jr. added 11.

The rivalry renewal had some added zip this week considering it marked the first time in 50 years, and only the third time ever, that the teams were meeting with each standing at 3-0 or better in the ACC.

The Tar Heels were off to their first 3-0 start in ACC play since opening 8-0 during the 2015-16 season, and were coming off a weekend win at No. 21 Clemson. Now they have three ACC road wins in as many tries.

The Wolfpack's 3-0 ACC start marked a first for the program since the 2012-13 season. But N.C. State's offense never got in a rhythm Wednesday, with leading scorer D.J. Horne (14.4 ppg) finishing with six points on 2-for-16 shooting.

The Tar Heels will host Syracuse on Saturday. The Wolfpack looks to get back on track Saturday with a visit to Louisville.