CHAPEL HILL — Forward Deon Thompson scored 20 points to lead sixth-ranked North Carolina past Valparaiso, 88-77, at the Smith Center.
Carolina led by as many as seven points early. But with 8:23 left in the first half, Valpo guard Brandon McPherson buried a wide-open 3-pointer to knot the score 22-22. UNC forward Tyler Zeller scored on a layup and got fouled for a three-point play to keep the Tar Heels ahead 25-22.
With 4:23 left, Thompson picked up a technical foul when he shoved Cameron Witt in the upper back while positioning for a rebound. Valpo buried both technical free throws, then hit a shot on its ensuing possession, to cut UNC’s lead to 31-26.
Carolina led 38-31 a halftime, and Thompson scored eight points in the opening four minutes of the second half to help UNC pull away.
Zeller finished with 12.
UNC (3-0) led by as many as 24 points.