UNC rolls past NC State 97-73

North Carolina's Joel Berry II, right, and North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (4) chase the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. North Carolina won 97-73. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Joel Berry II scored 18 points to help No. 10 North Carolina beat rival North Carolina State 97-73 on Wednesday night to stay alone in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference

North Carolina's Joel Berry II, right, and North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (4) chase the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. North Carolina won 97-73. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina’s Joel Berry II, right, and North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. (4) chase the ball during game Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Luke Maye added a career-high 13 points for the Tar Heels (22-5, 10-3), who shot 56 percent while dominating both the paint and the glass to blow out the Wolfpack for the second time in a month. UNC had won the first meeting 107-56 for the second-worst loss in N.C. State’s history.

UNC finished with a 60-22 edge in points in the paint and a 41-25 rebounding advantage that led to a 27-13 edge in second-chance points.

Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. scored 27 points but little else went right for the Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11), who continued their accelerating descent that has led to growing uncertainty about the future of sixth-year coach Mark Gottfried.

Picked to finish sixth in the 15-team league, the Wolfpack sits ahead of just one team in the standings with four regular-season games left. And since earning its first win at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995, N.C. State has lost six straight games — four coming by at least 24 points.

BIG PICTURE

UNC: The Tar Heels have won 21 of 23 meetings against N.C. State, and dominated this one despite playing without injured starting wing Kenny Williams III (knee). It was also a solid bounce back coming six days after a loss at rival Duke.

N.C. State: The season that started with potential has crashed. N.C. State followed Saturday’s 30-point loss at bubble team Wake Forest with another performance filled with bad defense, enough that the Tar Heels had emptied their bench with the team up 93-64 with 2 minutes left — and a chant of “Tar! Heels!” coming from a section of red seats upstairs.

UP NEXT

UNC: The Tar Heels have a big ACC game Saturday at home against No. 14 Virginia.

N.C. State: N.C. State hosts No. 25 Notre Dame on Saturday.

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