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.
"We got off to a slow start and really battled back tonight," said head coach Mark Turgeon. "I thought we picked up our game in the second half and took better shots."
Trailing 19-3 in the opening minutes, the Terrapins locked down on defense and held the Tar Heels without a field goal for more than four minutes. An 8-0 run propelled the Terps to a three-point deficit late in the half.Marcus Paige scored 18 points and hit three 3-pointers after halftime to lead UNC. 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.
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.