Best Games Of 2012-13: No. 7
Continuing today with entry No. 7, GoHeels.com will be counting down the top 25 games of 2012-13 for the rest of July until we get to No. 1. To catch up on the previous great moments of the Tar Heel year, click here for entries 8-25.
No. 7: Carolina 76, NC State 65 - Men's Basketball, Feb. 23, 2013
To say that Carolina has dominated the men's basketball series with NC State in the Roy Williams era would be an understatement. Since Williams returned to Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels had won 19 of the last 20 meetings with the Wolfpack prior to last season, including a three-game sweep in 2012 that culminated in a wild 69-67 ACC Tournament victory in Atlanta.
But momentum was finally on the side of the Pack entering the 2012-13 campaign. NC State was the highest-ranked team in the ACC at No. 6 in the preseason AP poll, and had scored a convincing 91-83 win over the Tar Heels in Raleigh in January. Carolina, however, was still very much a bubble team at that point, coming in as a 10-seed in ESPN's Bracketology report on Feb. 22.
The Tar Heels had won two straight over Virginia and Georgia Tech prior to the State game, but those wins followed losses at Miami and Duke that had fans worried about potentially missing the NCAA tournament for the second time in four seasons.
After NC State scored the first four points of the game, P.J. Hairston drained a deep three in transition to get the Tar Heels on the board and ease any concerns about a repeat of the slow start in Raleigh. The first half would feature six ties before Carolina made a run late in the period - highlighted by a steal and reverse jam by James Michael McAdoo - to take a 6-point lead into the break.
In the minutes following halftime it appeared that State may have weathered the storm, and the visitors actually led by as many as four on Scott Wood's 3 with 11:48 to go in the game. The Pack still led by three at the under-8 media timeout before the Tar Heels stepped on the gas for a final time to take control.
Reggie Bullock, who finished the game with 22 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, and Marcus Paige, who had 14 points and eight assists, fueled the deciding run. Paige's 3 gave UNC a 57-55 lead with 7:15 to go, and his three-point play two minutes later made it 65-57. By the time Bullock connected on his fifth three-pointer of the game at the 4:02 mark, the run was 16-2 and Carolina led by 11.
Paige capped what ended as an 18-2 run with a pair of free throws after the under-4 break, and when C.J. Leslie finally ended a nearly 5-minute State stretch without a bucket, the game was effectively over.
It was sweet redemption for the Tar Heels, particularly Bullock and Paige, who had combined to go 6 for 22 from the field in the first meeting.
Carolina would win nine of its final 12 games - including a run to the ACC Tournament final - to make the NCAA tournament with ease. While the disappointment of receiving a No. 8 NCAA seed and a season-ending loss to Kansas obscured another successful campaign, the chance to restore order to a heated rivalry ensured at least one enduring memory of 2012-13 on the hardwood.
No. 8: Carolina 64, Miami 62 - Women's Basketball, Jan. 27, 2013
No. 9: Carolina 6, Syracuse 1 - Field Hockey, Nov. 16, 2012
No. 10: Carolina 1, Stanford 0 (OT) - Women's Soccer, Nov. 30, 2012
No. 11: Carolina 3, Florida State 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 3, 2012
No. 12: Carolina 3, Wisconsin 2 (8 inn.) - Softball, May 16, 2013
No. 13: Carolina 2, Duke 1 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Sept. 28, 2012
No. 14: Carolina 79, Maryland 76 - Men's Basketball, March 16, 2013
No. 15: Carolina 10, Maryland 8 - Men's Lacrosse, March 23, 2013
No. 16: Carolina 72, Maryland 65 - Women's Basketball, March 9, 2013
No. 17: Carolina 4, Maryland 3 (OT) - Field Hockey, Oct. 20, 2012
No. 18: Carolina 11, Northwestern 8 - Women's Lacrosse, Feb. 22, 2013
No. 19: Carolina 4, USC 3 - Women's Tennis, Feb. 9, 2013
No. 20: Carolina 3, California 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 29, 2012
No. 21: Carolina 11, Johns Hopkins 10 (OT), Men's Lacrosse, March 30, 2013
No. 22: Carolina 1, Fairleigh Dickinson 0 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Nov. 25, 2012
No. 23: Peacock Smashes NCAA Record - Swimming and Diving, Dec. 2, 2012
No. 24: UNC's Big Day at ACCs - Track and Field, April 19, 2013
No. 25: Carolina 30, NC State 6 - Wrestling, Feb. 1, 2013