CHAPEL HILL – Marcus Paige scored 25 points to help North Carolina beat Maryland, 75-63, on Tuesday night, extending its winning streak to a season-best four games.
Brice Johnson added 19 points on 8-for-8 shooting off the bench for the Tar Heels (15-7, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who jumped to a 16-point lead in the game’s opening minutes and led the entire way. North Carolina shot 49 percent, scored 19 points off turnovers and controlled the boards to beat the Terrapins (13-10, 5-5) for the 14th time in 18 meetings.
North Carolina certainly needed this one to keep its momentum. The Tar Heels’ win against N.C. State on Saturday evened their league record after an 0-3 start, and UNC heads to Notre Dame on Saturday before returning home to host No. 11 Duke in the latest installment of the fierce rivalry.
Dez Wells scored 18 points to lead the Terrapins.
Maryland shot just 29 percent (8-for-28) in the opening half and finished at 39 percent while committing 16 turnovers.
Paige scored 18 points and hit three 3-pointers after halftime to lead UNC in his best scoring performance since going for a career-high 32 points against Louisville in November.
The team’s leading scorer on the season, Paige had reached 20 points just once in the past 11 games since scoring 23 in consecutive games against Kentucky and Texas in December.
Paige also finished with seven assists in 37 minutes.
Johnson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, had struggled offensively in recent games.
After scoring in double figures in seven of the first eight games this year, he had done it just once in the last seven – and that came with 10 points in Saturday’s win against the Wolfpack – while failing to shoot at least 50 percent in five of the past seven.
The duo’s increased output came at the right time for the Tar Heels, who scored the first 12 points and led 19-3 early. After Maryland closed the gap to three late in the first half, the Tar Heels pushed that margin to 39-27 at the break and never let the Terps closer than six again.
Evan Smotrycz added 14 points and Charles Mitchell grabbed 13 rebounds for the Terps, who had won two straight coming in but couldn’t earn their first win in Chapel Hill since knocking off the then-No. 1 Tar Heels in 2008.