North Carolina got back on the winning track last night in the ACC Tournament, as the Tar Heels broke open a close game in the second half on the way to an 83-62 triumph.
P.J. Hairston had 21 points in 30 minutes, while Reggie Bullock had 17 points (7 of 11 from the field), James Michael McAdoo had 12 points, and Dexter Strickland contributed 10 points.
Now UNC (23-9, 12-6) looks to continue its run against the Terrapins in what will more than likely be the last time these two storied rivals meet in the ACC Tournament.
Maryland advanced to this game by upsetting Duke 83-74 earlier Friday night. They were led by Dez Wells who had 30 points, with 16 points coming in the first half.
The Terrapins were never behind and led by as many 13 points, as Maryland had five players in double figures.
Mark Turgeon's squad shot 51 percent from the floor, while holding the best three point shooting team in the ACC to 4 of 25 from behind the arc (16 percent).
Turgeon spoke afterwards how his team has been confident coming into the tournament, even though the Terrapins have been on the bubble most of the year and will likely need another win on Saturday to have even a glimmer of hope come Selection Sunday.
"You have to be good and be lucky to beat a great team. We're a little bit of both," Turgeon said. "Watching them (our team) play, I think they fully expected to win that game and that's a good feeling when you have such a young basketball team to play on such a big stage in such a big game and to play with the poise that they played tonight."
The Tar Heels and Terrapins have met twice this year, with North Carolina coming out on top in both. Most recently UNC took a trip up to College Park March 6, and pulled away in the second half, defeating the Terps 79-68.
Hairston led all scorers in that particular game with 22 points, shooting 7 of 15 from the field and grabbing eight rebounds in the win.
Things might be different this time around, as Hairston is questionable for Saturday's game.
Late in the second half Friday night, Hairston suffered a laceration in the webbing of his hand, causing it to bleed uncontrollably between the ring and middle fingers on his left (non-shooting) hand.
Later, Hairston received eight stitches in his hand and he could be a game time decision, but as of Saturday morning is questionable for the game.
If Hairston isn't able to play, it could be a huge blow to the Tar Heels hopes of reaching the finals, as Roy Williams will more than likely go back to the old lineup with Desmond Hubert in the starting rotation.
North Carolina defeated the Terrapins with the old starting lineup in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels will need others to step up big time, as Maryland is a team that has nothing to lose right now.
Either way, Turgeon will have his team ready to play against the Tar Heels for today's 3:00 pm tip.
If North Carolina is able to defeat Maryland Saturday, the Tar Heels will head to their third straight ACC Tournament Championship against the winner of the first semifinal between N.C. State and top-seeded Miami.