CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Brice Johnson had 15 of his 17 points after halftime and No. 13 North Carolina shot 55 percent to beat Syracuse 93-83 on Monday night.
Nate Britt added a career-best 17 points and four three-pointers off the bench for the Tar Heels (17-4, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who pulled away in the final 4 minutes for their sixth straight win. UNC shot 62 percent in the second half and took control once it stopped turning the ball over against the Orange's zone defense.
Johnson was key in UNC's second-half production. After managing just two points on one shot attempt in the first half, the 6-foot-9 junior went 5 for 5 after the break — including three straight baskets in the first 90 seconds of the half — and finished with 11 rebounds.
By the final horn, UNC had the best shooting percentage and scoring total allowed all season by Syracuse (14-7, 5-3).
Marcus Paige finished with 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists to lead the Tar Heels, who won despite committing a season-high 20 turnovers that led to 21 points for Syracuse.
Trevor Cooney matched his season high with 28 points to lead the Orange, while Rakeem Christmas had 22 points and 12 rebounds. But Syracuse couldn't keep up with UNC's offense after halftime once the Tar Heels started protecting the ball, finishing at 43 percent shooting in the first trip to Chapel Hill for Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange.
Syracuse led by six midway through the second half before the Tar Heels finally pushed ahead, going in front for good on Britt's 3 near the 8-minute mark.
UNC led 74-72 before using an 8-1 run to finally build a cushion, getting a tip-in from Johnson and two free throws from Paige for an 82-73 lead with 1:32 left.
No. 15 Iowa State 89, No. 19 Texas 86: Georges Niang had 19 points and two blocks, Bryce DeJean-Jones scored 18 and the Cyclones (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) bounced back after being upset at Texas Tech on Saturday.
Isaiah Taylor had 17 points and seven assists to lead the Longhorns (14-6, 3-4), who have now lost to three of four Big 12 opponents they've played who were ranked in the Top 25.
No. 1 South Carolina 79, No. 12 Texas A&M 61: Freshman A'ja Wilson scored 18 points, defending Southeastern Conference player of the year Tiffany Mitchell added 16 points and Alaina Coates had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina (19-0, 7-0 SEC), which remained on top of the rankings for a 10th straight poll earlier Monday, put away the Aggies (16-5, 4-3) with a 27-8 run in the second half after seeing their double-digit lead shrink to 40-38.
It was the Gamecocks' fourth win over a ranked opponent this season and second against another powerhouse program in the SEC after a 68-60 win over then 10th-ranked Kentucky on Jan. 11.
No. 18 Mississippi St. 59, Auburn 48: Victoria Vivians had 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead the visiting Bulldogs (21-2, 6-2 SEC) to their third straight win after a pair of back-to-back losses mid-January.
Auburn (9-11, 0-7) dropped its eighth straight.
Washington dismisses junior Upshaw
Junior Robert Upshaw has been dismissed from the University of Washington for a violation of team rules, the school announced Monday.
"We wish Rob well as he moves forward in his life, and we will do our best to support him in the future," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said in a statement.
Upshaw transferred to Washington from Fresno State in 2013. The seven-footer failed multiple drug tests while at both schools, ESPN reported.
Upshaw averaged 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks for the Huskies this season. DraftExpress.com currently has him going 19th in its latest 2015 mock draft.
Samford: Darius Jones-Gibson, a junior out of Tates Creek, was named the Southern Conference's player of the week. He averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in league victories against North Carolina-Greensboro and Western Carolina.
Transylvania: Sophomore guard Alex Jones (St. Xavier) led the Pioneers to wins over Franklin and Rose-Hulman last week and was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's men's basketball player of the week. He scored a conference season-high 40 points with nine assists against Franklin. He added 15 points with four assists and five steals against Rose-Hulman.
Asbury: Sophomore Kyle Lamb (East Jessamine) averaged 24.3 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists, and was named the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's player of the week.
Murray State: Cameron Payne earned the Ohio Valley Conference's men's player of the week honor after averaging 27.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and five assists in a pair of victories that extended the team's win streak to 15 games.
Centre: Blake Scinta (Kentucky Country Day) earned the Southern Athletic Association's player of week award after averaging 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and two blocks.