CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina held off a furious late comeback attempt in the last two minutes to beat East Carolina 93-87 in the Dean Smith Center on Saturday.
Jeff Lebo's Pirates, down by as much as 18 at one stretch on cold shooting for much of the game began to heat up late. Two Akeem Richmond treys cut the North Carolina lead to just six with less than a minute to play.
On the subsequent play, referee Carl Hess called a blocking foul on East Carolina on the UNC inbounds pass along the baseline and awarded UNC the basketball. With :26 seconds remaining, Richmond connected again from the arc to cut the Tar Heel lead to 89-85 before finally falling by six points at the end.
James Michael McAdoo scored 19 to lead North Carolina along with 9 boards as the Tar Heels shot right at 50 percent from the floor for the contest.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead on two James Michael McAdoo scores before a Ty Armstrong free throw and a Shamarr Bowden trey cut the lead to two at 12-10 at the 16 minute mark of the first half.
A 12-nothing run found North Carolina up by 14 at the ten minute mark. Shamarr Bowden ended the run and ECU cut the lead to 12 at with five minutes to go before halftime on a Marshall Guilmette slam off a give-and-go from Paris-Roberts Campbell.
North Carolina(8-2) led by as much as 18 at the 2 minute mark. Paris Roberts-Campbell's free throw and subsequent trey on the next possession cut the lead to 15 just before intermission. The Tar Heels took a 42-26 cushion into the locker room.
Finding the basket was no problem for the Tar Heels who connected on 55 percent of their shots including 3 of 4 from the arc. East Carolina only hit only 29 percent from the field in the first stanza, including only 4-14 from the arc.
McAdoo had 12 at intermission while the Tar Heels got 10 points of them off of ECU turnovers. Kinston's Reggie Bullock scored ten in the first half including two treys for North Carolina. Paris Roberts-Campbell had 7 points in the first half and Shamarr Bowden scored 6 points.
Kemp, Sampson and Paul scored early in the second half before a Marshall Guilmette lay-in cut the UNC lead to 7 with 16 minutes left.
North Carolina went back up by as much as 17 points on a Page layup at the eight minute mark.
ECU(6-2) cut the lead to ten on a Richmond trey with 4:15 to play. Kemp cut the lead to 8 on two occasions down the stretch.
Reggie Bullock's follow found UNC up by eleven in the last two minutes of the game before ECU finally made a bigtime run.
Paul hit two free throws, then Akeem Richmond who led all ECU scorers with 17, hit two three-pointers to cut the lead to four with just :26 seconds to play before the Tar Heels got a bucket down at the end to put the finally put the scrappy Pirates away.
Maurice Kemp had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds for ECU, Miquel Paul had 15 while Robert Sampson and freshman Marshall Guilmette both tossed in 10 points.
North Carolina was 6 of 14 from the arc, hitting 50 percent of their 67 shots from the field overall while holding ECU to 42 percent shooting and only 10 of 27 from the arc.