T.J. Warren scored 21 points, including 13 in the second half to lead the Wolfpack (14-8, 4-5). Desmond Lee added 18 points, his highest scoring total since the first game of the season.
Down 17 at halftime, NC State made four of its first five shots after the break. Lee was able to get to the rim a few times and Anthony `Cat' Barber hit a pull-up jumper. After a Lee drive to the basket cut the lead to 55-39, NC State called timeout. The Wolfpack would get within 55-42 but an 8-0 UNC run erased a potential comeback.
"I liked that we came out to start the (second) half with a great competitive spirit," head coach Mark Gottfried said. "But we need to do that for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, we had dug ourselves too big of a hole."
A 3-pointer from the right corner and a short jumper from Warren on consecutive possessions made it 71-59. Later, a runner in the lane Barber pulled NC State within 76-66 at the 1:27 mark. The Wolfpack wouldn't get any closer.
NC State fell behind early and could not build enough momentum to climb back into the game. The Tar Heels led 6-0 just 1:43 into the game before a jumper by Ralston Turner put State on the board. North Carolina went on to extend the lead to 14-4 and led by double figures the entire first half. A 3-pointer by J.P. Tokoto and a running lay-up by Leslie McDonald put UNC ahead 40-23 at halftime.
North Carolina (14-7, 4-4 ACC) was led by McDonald's 20 points. James Michael McAdoo added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
NC State will have seven days off before playing at Miami Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. The Pack's next home game will be Tuesday, Feb. 11 against Wake Forest at 7 p.m.