Starting again, Meeks lifts UNC over Pack

uncncstate0116UNC’s Kennedy Meeks, coming off a knee injury, got his first start in a month and he made the most of it, especially in the second half, as he scored 23 in a 67-55 win at home over rival NC State. (1/16)

Meeks tallied just five points in the first half as Isaiah Hicks and Nate Britt gave the Heels enough of a lift off the bench to manage a 29-all tie at the half.

With the score tied at 34 and 17 minutes left, Joel Berry came up with a loose ball and got it to Meeks for a dunk, making it 36-34 Carolina. The Tar Heels never trailed again. A 14-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Berry threes, ended when Meeks made a nice pivot move for two that put the Heels up 45-36 with 13:25 left.

The Tar Heels got their first double-digit lead at 49-39 midway through the second half when Meeks hit a short hook shot. It never got closer than seven the rest of the way and the lead grew to 12 at 55-43 when UNC’s Justin Jackson hit a three from the right wing with less than seven minutes to go. Twelve points, also the final margin, was the largest lead of the game.

Neither team shot well as Carolina hit 38 percent of its shots while State hit 40 percent. The Tar Heels hit only five of 20 three points.

Carolina’s defense in the second half was key as the Heels held the Pack to 33 percent shooting in the half, including no points for State’s leading scorer Cat Barber, who finished with just nine.

“The kids gave a great effort,” said Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried. “But things changed in the second half. Their ability to get offensive rebounds and our turnovers were the difference in the game.”

The Pack turned it over 18 times compared to just nine for the Tar Heels. Carolina scored 17 points off State turnovers while the Wolfpack managed just four points off Tar Heel turnovers.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.