In another well-rounded performance, five Tar Heels scored in double figures, led by Jawad Williams’ 18 points. Marvin Williams added 14 points off the bench, while Rashad McCants and Sean May each added 12 and Raymond Felton had 11.
To no one’s surprise, the Yellow Jackets were led by an inspired effort from junior point guard Jarrett Jack, who finished with a game-high 24 points.
It was Carolina’s biggest win over a Top 10 team since knocking off No. 1 Duke, 97-73, on Feb. 5, 1998.
“They may be the best team in the country,” Tech coach Paul Hewitt said of the third-ranked Tar Heels. “They have good players and they are tough to beat in this building when they have good players.”
The Tar Heels (14-1, 3-0 ACC), the nation’s highest scoring team and the ACC leader in field goal percentage and three-point shooting, will carry a 14-game win streak into Saturday’s marquee match-up at No. 4 Wake Forest (14-1, 3-0). The only regular-season meeting between what might be the two best teams in the conference will mark the only time in the 210-game series when both teams were ranked in the AP Top 5.
In the second of three-straight against ranked opponents, Carolina will take its thunderous momentum on the road for the first time since an 85-51 win at Virginia Tech almost a month ago.
The Tar Heels shot just 37 percent from the floor in the first half against the Yellow Jackets (11-3, 2-1), snapping a string of eight-straight halves in which they shot 50 percent or better. But they also started a new streak by converting 11 of 22 field goals in the second half.
Seventeen offensive rebounds allowed Carolina to help itself to 15 more possessions in the first half. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the game’s first eight minutes, and they enjoyed their biggest lead of the night midway through the second half ahead, 69-44.
“We were getting easy shots,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I felt that with the tempo of the game, there were going to be a lot of possessions and more opportunities for them to foul.”
Meanwhile, UNC’s defense was stifling, especially on the perimeter. Tech shot 36.8 percent for the game, including a putrid 17.6 percent from three-point range. The Tar Heels’ last two opponents have gone 5-for-39 from beyond the arc.
“We just try to get a hand up on every shot,” David Noel said. “Coach always says if you get a hand up, no matter if your five feet away from them, it can distract their vision, and they can miss the shot.”
“If we could have kept them off the free throw line in the first half, I would have been ecstatic with our defense, because we were able to force turnovers,” Roy Williams said, noting Tech made 14 of 20 from the charity stripe in the first half.
But the Tar Heels second year head coach credited UNC's mammoth rebounding advantage –- 52-33 for the game –- as the key to victory. At intermission, Carolina actually had one more offensive rebound than the Jackets did defensively. May finished with a game-high 13 boards, along with his third “double-double” of the season and the 18th of his college career.
Both teams committed 19 turnovers, including eight by Felton –- the most he’s ever committed in a game.
“They just beat us to a lot of balls,” Hewitt said. “They forced a lot of turnovers. When they get those steals in the middle of the floor, they capitalize on them better than any team in the country.”
McCants blocked a career-high four shots, including a demonstrative rejection of a Theodis Tarver offering late in the game.
Sophomore football standout Jesse Holley saw his first action of the year, scoring three points and recording an assist in one minute of action.
“When Coach Williams started walking down the bench and started grabbing guys and started pulling guys out, and I was like kneeling on the floor, thinking ‘Come on, come on,’” said Holley, who made 15 appearances last season. “And then he pointed and me and I got up and ran to the table.”
Saturday's game in Winston-Salem tips-off at 1:30 p.m.