UNC's Harrison Barnes (40) reacts after a dunk late in the second half. ROBERT WILLETT- firstname.lastname@example.org
RALEIGH — For every push in Wednesday's basketball game between North Carolina and N.C. State, there was a pull, for every action, a reaction.
In the end, UNC was left standing after an old-fashioned ACC fight. The Tar Heels flexed their muscle and found a way to beat the Wolfpack for the 10th straight time, 75-63 at the RBC Center.
Harrison Barnes' back-to-back follow dunks closed out a desperate N.C. State team, which played with an intensity and consistent defensive pressure that had been missing in the rivals' first meeting, a 20-point loss at UNC on Jan. 29.
UNC forward Tyler Zeller spent almost as much time on the floor as the ACC logo in the lane. State's bigs battered and contested every one of UNC's leading scorer's moves.
That left real estate for Barnes (16 points), who had a breakout game against the Wolfpack last time with 25 points, to bury them again.
Barnes followed a John Henson miss at 4:09 and a Dexter Strickland miss at 3:42 with dunks and gave UNC a 64-56 cushion.
After a 3-pointer from C.J. Leslie, who led State with 13 points, cut UNC's lead to 64-59, Barnes' provided the dagger with a 3-pointer from the left elbow at 1:56 for a 67-59 advantage.
UNC (21-6) passed last year's win total with three regular-season games left and improved to 11-2 in the ACC.
The Wolfpack, which has lost 16 of 17 to UNC coach Roy Williams, dropped to 4-9 in the ACC and 14-13 overall.
Strickland, who had missed his last nine field goals and had gone three games without making one, found his stroke with 13 points.
Most of his points have come in transition but he also has a 3-pointer, one of three for the Heels, which entered the game 11-of-66 from 3-point range in the past four games.
N.C. State, which never led in the first meeting of the season in Chapel Hill, led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Javier Gonzalez's 3-pointer at 11:03 put the Pack up 19-9. The Tar Heels quickly responded with an 8-0 run.
The Heels got a four-point possession after an intentional foul by Scott Wood on Barnes at 6:10 in the first half. Barnes made both of his free throws and Zeller followed with two of his own after drawing a foul at 5:54.
Strickland's first 3-pointer in five games tied the score at 24 with 4:34 left in the half.
Henson's layup at 1:42 gave UNC its first lead of the game, 28-27. Kendall Marshall's 3 with 53.5 seconds left gave UNC the 31-29 advantage going into the break.