- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A quick look at No. 5 North Carolina’s 60-57 victory over seventh-ranked Wisconsin the Smith Center in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night:
What it means: UNC forward Harrison Barnes’ ankle is fine. And it looks like the Tar Heels are going to be, as well. It wasn’t the prettiest outing, but North Carolina bounced back from losing its first game of the season -- and its No. 1 ranking -- by outrebounding the Badgers by 13 and holding them to less than 36 percent shooting. Barnes did most of the damage in the points column, scoring 14 of his 20 in the second half while junior John Henson did most of the damage on the backboards, pulling down 16 rebounds.
How it happened: It looked like UNC might pull away early, when a Barnes bucket put the Tar Heels ahead 19-10. But Wisconsin countered with a 12-2 run, taking a 22-21 lead on a Rob Wilson 3-pointer. That included about a four-minute span when no one scored.
North Carolina led 25-24 at halftime, but Wisconsin took a 36-31 lead in the second half. That’s when the Tar Heels pulled away, using an 18-5 run -- during which Barnes did most of the damage -- to take a 49-41 advantage. That was just-enough to survive UW's comeback try at the end.
Injury report: UNC freshman reserve P.J. Hairston fell on his left wrist during the second half, and was taken to the locker room. He returned to the bench, but not to the game.
Numbers to note: The Tar Heels buried eight straight free throws during their second-half 18-5 run; they were shooting only 60.7 from behind the line entering the game. ... The last time UNC lost to a nonconference opponent in the Smith Center was Nov. 29, 2005, to Illinois. ... Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor finished with 18 points and four assists, but made only 6 of 20 shots.
Hubbub: Shammond Williams, Mike Copeland, Antawn Jamison, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough and Rasheed Wallace were among the Tar Heel alumni in attendance. Wallace was wearing a red sweatshirt and was seated behind the bench, which caused some chuckles, considering Roy Williams’ comments Tuesday about red-wearing fans and BB guns.
What’s next: It doesn’t get any easier for the Tar Heels, who travel to Rupp Arena to face top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday. Wisconsin faces Marquette at home, also on Saturday.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.