LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina beat its two biggest rivals, then pulled away late to beat Notre Dame to cap a demanding stretch.

The 14th-ranked Tar Heels are tired. They also might have found a groove.

Theo Pinson scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime to go with 10 rebounds, helping UNC pull away late to beat Notre Dame, 83-66, on Monday night for its third win in five days.

Things certainly look different from 10 days ago for the Tar Heels (20-7, 9-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were coming off their first three-game losing streak in four years and a win against a winless-in-the-ACC Pittsburgh team before the stretch. But they beat Duke at home on Thursday then won Saturday at North Carolina State in a pair of emotional rivalry games.

This time, UNC needed a 13-0 burst in the final 5½ minutes to finally get some separation against a team that just kept hanging around.

More: MSU No. 2 in AP poll, tops coaches' poll

“You could tell we were out there and had a rhythm,” Pinson said. “But at the same time, it’s still tough recovering so fast, going from game to game. You want to celebrate one win and be like, ‘Dang, that was a good win for us,’ but you’ve got to get ready for the next game.

“It was a big-time stretch for us.”

Martinas Geben and John Mooney each scored 18 points for the Fighting Irish (15-11, 5-8), with Mooney going 6 of 6 from 3-point range. But UNC – which shot 57 percent – later used its clinching run to turn a 67-63 margin into a 17-point bulge near the 2-minute mark.

It didn’t help the Irish that point guard Matt Farrell struggled; he scored nine points on 3-for-18 shooting, including 1 for 12 from 3-point range.

“I loved how we fought,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, “but they had about a three-minute stretch where they were unbelievable offensively. And we certainly couldn’t absorb that.”

MORE TOP 25 MEN

(At) No. 20 West Virginia 82, TCU 66: Teddy Allen scored 16, giving West Virginia a needed spark off the bench in the victory over TCU.

James “Beetle” Bolden added 14 points, Daxter Miles Jr. scored 13 and Wes Harris had 11 points for West Virginia (19-7, 8-5 Big 12).

Desmond Bane had 16 points, Vlad Brodziansky added 15 and Kouat Noi scored 12 for TCU (17-9, 5-8).

West Virginia has had trouble holding onto leads throughout the Big 12 season but didn’t let the Horned Frogs come back from a 38-27 halftime deficit.

TCU twice closed within five in the second half, but went without a field goal over a crucial four-minute stretch and West Virginia capitalized with a rare strong finish. The Mountaineers outscored the Horned Frogs 15-7 over the final three minutes.

TOP 25 WOMEN

(At) No. 1 Connecticut 89, No. 4 Louisville 58: Connecticut landed a big early punch and Louisville could not recover.

Katie Lou Samuelson scored 26 and the top-ranked Huskies used a first-quarter burst to beat No. 4 Louisville. Louisville (25-2) scored the first three points and then UConn rattled off 19 straight.

“We defended them about as well as we wanted to and that was the plan going in,” Auriemma said. “We executed it and that led to a couple easy things. At the other end on offense, we just were really sharp on the offensive end. When you combine those two things. The way we play on defense and executed on offensive end that’s how you got what you got.”

Napheesa Collier added 14 points and Gabby Williams had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Huskies (25-0), who won their 76th consecutive home game.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE