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Leading 43-39, the Tar Heels scored six field goals and added two free throws in a span of 3:47 to pull ahead by 18 points. Carolina, which led 41-37 at halftime, led by as many as 27 points in the final two minutes. The Tar Heels shot 64.5 percent and held the Indians to 28.1 percent from the floor in the second half.
In the first half, both teams shot 50 percent from the floor and the Indians hit six of 12 from three-point range. Catawba scored the game' first six points and led 15-8 with 15:31 to play after a three-pointer by guard Brian Frasier.
Carolina took its first lead of the game at 19-17 on a three-point play by freshman forward Danny Green with 12:01 remaining in the half. That was part of an 18-2 Tar Heel run that gave UNC a 30-19 lead.
Noel led the Tar Heels with 18 points and added five rebounds and four steals. He was one of four UNC players to score in double figures. Junior forward Reyshawn Terry had 16 points, freshman forward Tyler Hansbrough had 16 and Green added 12. Terry and Green shared game rebounding honors with nine apiece.
Catawba's Helgi Magnusson led all scorers with 20 points, 14 of which came in the opening period. He hit three of four from three-point range in the first half.
The Tar Heels forced 21 turnovers and committed 18 miscues, only seven of which came in the second half.
Carolina returns to action next Saturday, November 19, in the regular-season opener against Gardner-Webb at 8 p.m.