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Big second half leads UNC past NC State, 96-89

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NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

There are times that I’m certain NC State is an NCAA tournament-caliber team, and then there are the lapses in between, where things go wrong to a degree that would not otherwise seem possible. State occupied both of these spaces on Saturday, but it was on the wrong side too often, and UNC took full advantage in a 96-89 win over the Pack.

So it goes. [heavy sigh]

The Wolfpack allowed UNC to pile up 28 points in the first nine minutes or so, in an extended stretch of poor defense—this would be a theme. State, to its credit, rallied back from an early 28-18 deficit with a huge run, but today there simply were not enough stops.

And UNC did its best to help; the Tar Heels turned the ball over a bunch, often on careless passes. The Heels were able to compensate by being damn brilliant on their effective possessions, and they also controlled the glass. Usually, when UNC owns the boards against State, it wins. We know this coming into every single one of these games, but knowledge is useless without execution.

Carolina’s hot second-half shooting and its edge on the boards were the difference in an otherwise close game. The Heels made the plays that mattered, and NC State eventually ran out of countermeasures. The better team won.

UNC missed a grand total of seven shots in the second half. Hit 25 of 32 attempts. That’s pretty difficult to overcome. It was not meant to be today.