CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina may have entered the ACC tournament as a No. 2 seed this week, but its first game in the quarterfinals against No. 7 seed Louisville did not come easy.
The Tar Heels led for the majority of the game, but the Cardinals never went away. They cut the lead to seven points with 8:20 remaining. But the Tar Heels locked down on defense and won 83-70.
North Carolina senior Luke Maye and freshman guard Coby White led the Tar Heels with 19 points each. Graduate senior Cam Johnson added 14 points.
The Tar Heels (27-5) have now won eight consecutive games, their longest winning streak of the season.
North Carolina and Louisville split their season series this season, with both teams winning on the road. The Cardinals handed the Tar Heels their worst home loss in the Roy Williams era by 21 points on Jan. 12. UNC's players credit the Louisville loss as the turnaround to their season.
After the loss they dropped to 12-4 on the season. Since then, the Tar Heels have been on a role, winning 15 of their last 16, which now includes two wins over Louisville.
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On Thursday, the Tar Heels got out and ran and ultimately wore down the Cardinals. They had 27 fastbreak points.
The Tar Heels grabbed a 34-21 lead with a little more than eight minutes left in the first half. At the time, it was the largest lead of the game. But the Cardinals cut the deficit to one point after going on 12-0 run over the next three minutes. The Tar Heels missed four consecutive shots and turned it over twice.
White stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer from the left corner. That helped jumpstart the offense. The Tar Heels finished the half on an 11-2 run to go up by 10 at halftime.
In the second half, Louisville cut the lead to six with about 12 minutes left in the game. But UNC answered again. This time, UNC sophomore Garrison Brooks scored on a layup while being fouled. That extended the lead to 61-52 with 11:50 remaining.