Tar Heels down Wolfpack, remain undefeated in ACC play behind strong defensive effort

In the first half of Wednesday night’s UNC-NC State rivalry game, there was no clear victory in Round One of the season series.

Midway through the second half, one team started to pull away – fast.

UNC starting power forward Harrison Ingram took over the boards, pulling down 19 rebounds and leading a suddenly hot defense – that limited N.C. State to a 26.9 field goal percentage – in a 67-54 Tar Heel victory.

With its win, Carolina (12-3, 4-0) moved into sole possession of first place in the ACC.

Though Carolina’s (12-3, 4-0 ACC) defense took over, both teams locked down on ball-handlers and shooters. UNC shooting guard R.J. Davis led all scorers with 16 points, while Tar Heels point guard Elliot Cadeau and N.C. State big man DJ Burns were the only two starters to shoot 50 percent.

Carolina limited the Wolfpack, a team that likes to shoot 3-pointers plenty, to a horrendous 2-of-20 mark from deep. On Saturday, UNC limited Clemson to 1-of-18 shooting from the outside.

D.J. Horne, N.C. State’s leading scorer, shot just 2-of-16 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free throw line.

In the scoring department, which didn’t have a ton of fireworks, Carolina made the difference with an 18-8 edge in fastbreak points. You could argue that was the difference in tonight’s game, particularly late when UNC kept stealing the ball and getting easy layup opportunities.

Carolina held an opponent to under 60 points for the third straight game. For a team that forms its identity on fast-paced offense, it’s the defense that has UNC atop the ACC early in the New Year.

Player of the Game

If it’s not Harrison Ingram, the game was never played.

Ingram’s known more as a scorer, but he was a beast on the boards tonight. Ingram pulled down 19 rebounds, nine more than the next closest player (D.J. Horne).

His rebounding effort led UNC’s best defensive effort of the season.

What’s next?

Carolina hosts Syracuse on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 12 p.m. noon. The Orange (10-4, 1-2), who are playing Boston College tonight, have won five of their past six games.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire