North Carolina State and host North Carolina have fought their way back into the middle of the ACC, and one will continue that momentum Saturday. The Wolfpack have won three home games in a row - by a combined 15 points - and have the league's leading scorer in T.J. Warren. The sophomore forward has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, missing the triumph over Maryland that started the Wolfpack's winning streak with an ankle injury.
The Tar Heels have won back-to-back games for the first time in league play, riding strong second halves to victories over Clemson and Georgia Tech. "It was almost all getting better shots," coach Roy Williams said of his team's 66.7 percent shooting in the second half Wednesday. "We were rushing it. We were not getting the shots we wanted because we weren't patient." Marcus Paige, James Michael McAdoo and Leslie McDonald lead North Carolina's balanced offense.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (14-7, 4-4 ACC): Warren leads the league with 22.5 points on 51.3 percent shooting and tops the Wolfpack with 7.3 rebounds. Anthony Barber adds 10.8 points and a team-high 88 assists while Desmond Lee contributes 10.2 points. Freshman forward BeeJay Anya (2.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks) left Wednesday's game with a knee injury and his status for Saturday is unknown.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (13-7, 3-4): The Tar Heels have shot better than 60 percent in the second half of their last two games, with Paige - who has a team-high average of 16.8 - scoring 30 of his 34 combined points in those contests after intermission. McAdoo, who is averaging 14.9 points and a team-best 6.4 rebounds, has scored in double figures in each of his last 13 contests. McDonald, who has scored in double figures in four straight games for the first time in his career, adds 10.5 points.
1. Warren has four 30-point performances while the rest of the ACC has six, including one by North Carolina's Paige.
2. Paige leads the ACC in free-throw shooting (90.6 percent) while the Tar Heels are ranked last as a team from the stripe (61.8 percent).
3. North Carolina leads the in-state series 148-76, including a 20-2 mark under Williams.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 72, North Carolina State 65