Fourth-ranked UNC (23-4, 9-3 ACC) took care of business by shooting 52 percent (45 percent from three-point range) and out-rebounding the Eagles, 33-25 – the same stats Roy Williams says he examines immediately when perusing the post-game box score.
He also looks at the opposing team’s shooting percentage right off the bat. And while Boston College (18-8, 9-4) was equally as effective as the Tar Heels on 28-of-54 shooting from the floor, the Eagles went 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Tyler Hansbrough scored a team-high 17 points, as all five UNC starters reached double figures.
Reyshawn Terry scored all 10 of his points in the second half, while carrying most of the defensive load in guarding ACC Player of the Year candidate Jared Dudley.
“That was a big-time basketball game in a fantastic college atmosphere,” Williams said.
The ACC champs were not crowned following the game, and the Tar Heels have four tough league contests remaining. However, Carolina fans don’t want to know what might have been had their team slipped behind the conference leaders. A loss would have erected an uphill climb for the regular season title, while turning the possibility of a No. 1 NCAA seed into an afterthought.
“It’s tough to have high expectations put upon us, but that’s what we want. We want to have high expectations to live up to if you want to be up on that pedestal,” said Wayne Ellington, who scored 12 points while converting two of four three-point attempts.
Still, behind 22 points Dudley and 20 from Tyrese Rice, BC trimmed a seven-point UNC lead down to three with 2:09 to play, and Dudley at the line to shoot three free throws. However the 76 percent free throw shooter missed all three attempts.
The score remained at 73-70, until a circus bank shot by Rice cut the Eagles’ deficit to one with 28 seconds remaining. But Marcus Ginyard would answer with two high-pressure free throws to enable the Tar Heels to escape their first ever trip to the Conte Forum victorious.
“This is a great win for us, because we’ve got to get used to playing close games and pulling them out,” said Ty Lawson, who finished with 13 points and seven assists.
It was UNC’s first win over BC since 1975, knotting the all-time series at three wins apiece.
“I think we showed that we do have toughness,” Hansbrough said. “It will take more than one game to show how really tough we are, so we’ll have to bring it every game like we did tonight.”
Carolina has followed up each of its four losses this season by defeating a ranked team away from the Smith Center.
After falling to Gonzaga in the Preseason NIT, the Tar Heels thrashed No. 22/21 Tennessee at Madison Square Garden, 101-87. Following a first ACC loss of the season to the Hokies, they blew out No. 19/16 Clemson at Littlejohn, 77-55. NC State played a near perfect game to upset UNC on Feb. 3, but four days later Carolina topped 16th ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 79-73.
“We’ve been a pretty good team on the road,” Williams said. “We had a huge game to bounce back down at Clemson. We had a huge game to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium. And this was a huge game for us tonight. I think we’ll gain a great deal from this.”