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Off the cuff: The season has gone South in a hurry for the Tar Heels after they dropped the fifth of their last seven games. North Carolina didn't look bad in losses to Pitt and Duke, and were impressive in a win over Georgia Tech. But this game makes one wonder how far this team can go.

Perhaps a lot of it is attributed to NC State making the game ugly with a slow-down offense. Carolina couldn't get into the tempo it wanted except during the run in the second half that cut a 16-point deficit to two with plenty of time left.

The Tar Heels were cookin' with gas as they scored on nine straight possessions.

But a couple of unforced turnovers and a couple of bad shots and a couple of bad shot selections, and the window to take the lead was gone.

As a result, the Tar Heels dropped their fourth loss at home this season.

UNC coach Roy Williams had challenged the crowd after he criticized them for being lackadaisical all year.

"I hate it for our crowd. God almighty, they were good," he said.

The game was winnable as State could only hit 35 percent from the floor. But the deliberate play and the good defense against the Heels was good enough on this night.

The Tar Heels can beat anybody - well, anybody who doesn't keep them from playing up tempo. But they are starting to look like a team that will go down early in the ACC tourney and early in the NCAA tourney.

There is still time to turn things around as the Heels travel to Miami and Georgia Tech before hosting Duke in a revenge game in the regular season finale.

NC State 58, Tar Heels 46
NCSU holds Heels to fewest points in CH

After getting out to a 16-point lead, a deliberate North Carolina State withstood a 12-0 North Carolina run to win in Chapel Hill for the first time since 2003 by a 58-46 score. (2/24)

"They dominated from the get-go," UNC coach Roy Williams said of the Wolfpack, who never trailed after falling behind 2-0. "Our crowd was fantastic and our team and our coach let 'em down."

The 46 points were the fewest the Tar Heels have ever scored at the Smith Center.

State's defense held Carolina to 34.5 percent from the floor as Beejay Anya blocked six Tar Heel shots.

Offensively, the Wolfpack held the ball until late in the shot clock and, despite shooting just 35 percent, drained seven three-pointers. State hit four threes in the first half to take a 29-18 halftime lead.

The Pack got the lead up to 16 following a three by Ralston Turner early in the second half. But then the Tar Heels seemed to wake up with a 12-0 run.

Two buckets by UNC's Justin Jackson cut the margin to 12. After a State timeout, a couple of nifty assists by Marcus Paige and Jackson cut the lead to eight and precipitated another State timeout.

But the run continued for the Heels. After a Jackson steal, Paige dove and passed to Jackson for a fastbreak layup. Then Paige whipped a pass to Kennedy Meeks to cut the lead to four at 36-32 as State called its third timeout of the half.

A Meeks follow shot cut the lead to 38-36 with 11:04 left in the game.

But State's Turner drilled a three and, following a Carolina turnover, he went in for a fastbreak layup as the Pack weathered the storm to lead 43-36.

The Tar Heels cut the margin to four twice, the last time after a Paige three made it 50-46 with 2:33 to go.

But Carolina seemed to lose its poise with turnovers and bad shots while State was scoring the final eight points of the game to earn the 12-point victory.

"They made a run - we knew it was coming," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. "The rafters were shaking and our guys answered the run." He said he was extremely proud of his team, particularly defensively.

Coach Williams said while his players made a nice run, they had no poise late in the game. Lazy passes, bad shot selection and simply poor execution of plays doomed the Heels.

"The last three or four minutes we looked like a team that's never had a practice," Williams said.

Jackson led the Tar Heels with 16 points while Meeks had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony Barber led NC State, now 17-11 and 8-7 in the league, with 15 points. Turner and Trevor Lacey added 14 each.

The Tar Heels, who play at Miami Saturday, fall to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the ACC.


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