In a game with more lead changes than McDonald's All-Americans, North Carolina edged Kentucky in Chapel Hill, 82-77. The Tar Heels ran the floor and forced Kentucky's bigs to get into foul trouble, getting to the line 43 times in the game.
Leading by a slim margin for most of the second half, UNC exploded at the end of the game due to a series of mistakes by Kentucky. A botched offensive rebound by Julius Randle led to a run-out and two-handed slam by Brice Johnson, opening up a seven-point lead with just over a minute remaining. Missed free throws by the Wildcats allowed UNC to retain that margin and finish off another ranked opponent.
After a slow start, North Carolina settled in at home behind the transition game of J.P. Tokoto and James Michael McAdoo. The forwards combined for 33 points on the day, with McAdoo shooting 19 free throws. Alex Poythress, Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein all spent time on the bench in the second half with foul trouble, allowing the Tar Heels' slashers easy lanes to the basket.
Aaron Harrison was the hot shooter for Kentucky, scoring 20 points on 75 percent shooting. Cauley-Stein, despite the foul trouble, blocked five Tar Heels field goal attempts.
North Carolina has beat Louisville, Michigan State and now Kentucky. Its win column reads like many analysts' pre-season Final Four predictions, all without last season's leading scorer P.J. Hairston.