• 68°

Tar Heels easily dispatch NC State

UNC wins

North Carolina's Nate Britt (0) drives to the basket against North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (4) 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 Nate Britt (0) drives to the basket against North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. (4) 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)

By Aaron Beard

AP Basketball Writer

RALEIGH (AP) — Tenth-ranked North Carolina walked into rival North Carolina State’s arena and did everything it was supposed to do.

The Tar Heels dominated the paint. They controlled the glass. They shot the ball well and took the crowd out of it early. When it was over, they had rolled to a 97-73 victory Wednesday night that kept them alone in first place atop the Atlantic Coast Conference while further increasing the uncertainty about the future of sixth-year Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried.

It was UNC’s first game since losing at rival Duke six days earlier. The Tar Heels (22-5, 10-3) responded by shooting 56 percent and leading by 29 points to blow out the Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11) for the second time in five weeks.

“Like Coach (Roy Williams) always said: we control our destiny,” said Joel Berry II, who scored 18 points. “And if we want to be the top team at the end of the season, it’s all on us. I think everyone on this team realizes that and that’s why we had such great practices coming into this game.”

The Tar Heels finished with a 60-22 edge in points in the paint, a 41-25 rebounding advantage and 27 second-chance points — a strong follow to last month’s 107-56 win against the Wolfpack that stood as the second-worst loss in N.C. State’s history.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Theo Pinson, who had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting while starting for injured Kenny Williams III. “I’m glad we punched them in the mouth early and just kept it going.”

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 had Gottfried greeted by a smattering of boos during pregame introductions.

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.

Asked if he felt he needed to make his case to athletic director Debbie Yow to keep his job, Gottfried declined.

“No, and I don’t want to talk about that,” Gottfried said. “Again, like I said yesterday (at practice), I respect you guys. Fair question, good question. But I want to talk about the game and those kind of things. That’s not something I want to answer, so I hope you understand.”

BIG PICTURE

UNC: The Tar Heels have won 21 of 23 meetings against N.C. State, and dominated this one despite playing without Williams (right knee) while Isaiah Hicks played just 7 minutes due to foul trouble.

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.

RIVALRY ROUTS

It marked the first time the Tar Heels had beaten the Wolfpack by at least 20 points in each regular-season meeting since the 1992-93 season. The 24-point margin also matched UNC’s largest against the Wolfpack in PNC Arena.

WILLIAMS’ INJURY

Williams, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, could be out the rest of the season after suffering the knee injury in Tuesday’s practice. Roy Williams said the guard would have surgery next week for a procedure with a typical recovery time of 4-6 weeks.

MAYE’S PLAY

Luke Maye finished with a career-high 13 points off the bench for the Tar Heels with Hicks battling foul trouble, including a play when he pump-faked Omer Yurtseven from 3-point range and drove untouched for a dunk against a defense that rotated no one over.

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.

Comments

BREAKING NEWS

Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity