Instead of playing down to the competition -- or competition's game tempo in this case -- the Tar Heels (18-2, 7-1) rose to the occasion, as David Noel, Jackie Manuel, Marvin Williams and Sean May all contributed to an extensive highlight reel of high flying jams and rejections.
Meanwhile the Wolfpack (13-8, 3-5), which started the season 8-0, suffered its eighth setback in its last 13 outings.
UNC was led by Marvin Williams’ career-high 20 points. Williams was 3-for-4 from three-point range and converted 7 of 8 free throws.
“I thought he was impressive from the outside and around the boards,” Roy Williams said of the freshman’s play. “He makes a lot of free throws, and a guy who is aggressive around the boards is going to get a lot of free throws.”
Rashad McCants missed just one shot to finish with 18 points, May “double-doubled” his way to 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Raymond Felton did the same with 11 points to go with 10 assists – including his 1,000th career points with 15:58 to play in the first half.
With Roy Williams under the weather – he was hospitalized earlier in the day with a 103-degree temperature – his team spared his voice by giving him nothing to feel any more ill about.
“The best thing that happened is my team played their butts off,” Williams said in a peaked voice. “That made me feel a lot better. I told them before the game if they played their tails off it would be a lot easier for me to coach.”
Things seem to be getting easier and easier for Carolina, which has now put together two of its best performances back-to-back. After shooting over 60 percent both from three-point range and overall in a 110-76 mauling of Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday, the Tar Heels took things to an even higher level versus State by converting 66 percent of their field goals in the first half, including 71.4 percent from long-range.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a 12-2 lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back, taking a 51-32 lead at the half. After State attempted a comeback with an 11-4 run to start the final period, Carolina then outscored the Wolfpack 22-9 over the next 4:09 to finalize the rout.
“North Carolina, right now, is better than anyone in the country,” N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said. “[Marvin Williams] is just an awesome talent; I don’t think there is anything he can’t do. For us to come over here and show well, we have to shoot better than 5-for-22 from three-point range.”
In a game that was played to near perfection, UNC turned the ball over just nine times, blocked six shots and recorded 11 steals.
Noel, who had a career-high four steals, dazzled the capacity home crowd with a breakaway reverse slam.
“I call that one ‘Rock the Cradle,” Noel said afterward.
Manuel also made the late-night sports reels when he took an alley-oops pass from Felton on the break and slammed the ball through on top of a defender.
But the most exciting play, in a game full of them, might have been May’s stuff of a Julius Hodge dunk attempt that electrified the home contingent early in the second half.
“I timed it perfect and got a hand on it,” May said of the block. “I’m glad that’s not on SportsCenter – me getting dunked on. I felt like it was a little momentum shift – that could have gotten them going.”
Marvin Williams took his turn posing for his pin-up on a one-handed windmill offering with the other hand positioned behind his head.
“I used to do that in high school all the time,” he said. “I told my buddy back home I’d do it if I got a break away.”
So what can’t Marvin Williams do?
“I can’t beat Rashad in video games,” he said.