Wisconsin won the battle of tempo, but Carolina played the slugfest style of game better than the Badgers did.
UNC used its athleticism to guard Wisconsin on the perimeter and force their players to drive rather than shoot open 3-pointers. The Tar Heels won 60-57 to improve to 6-1, but they had to play nearly every second of the shot clock at Wisconsin's end to make it happen.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking knowing you have to play for 30 seconds every possession," senior big man Tyler Zeller said, who had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Trying but effective. UNC forced Wisconsin to shot 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. The Badgers entered the game shooting 47 percent from there as a team.
"They're long and quick, and getting good looks isn't the easiest thing in the world," Wisconsin Bo Ryanp said.
Carolina rarely allowed open 3-point attempts.
"They are a 3-point shooting team," said junior John Henson, who had a game-high 17 rebounds. "We followed through with our game plan."
Wisconsin is a tough, tough team. The Badgers battled the Tar Heels physically all night. Not being as athletic, however, this led to a discrepancy in fouls.
Wisconsin made three of six free-throw attempts. Carolina's superior athletes forced the Badgers into grabbing and banging so much that they committed 21 fouls to 12 for UNC. The Tar Heels went 19-of-24 free throws, a marked improvement from some earlier performances.
"It would be nice to shoot more free throws [but] they don't leave their feet to block shots or clog up the lane with their length," Ryan said. "But we were playing from behind so they didn't really have to foul us."
Point guard Jordan Taylor is Wisconsin's best player. He is a challenge to guard on every possession, but Carolina did it.
In particular, Kendall Marshall hawked Taylor most of the evening. Zeller would come out of the post and block off the lane, and Marshall successfully got to the side Taylor eventually chose. Then Marshall used his length to bother Taylor.
Taylor scored 18 points, but he shot 6-of-20 from the field. He went 3-of-11 from the 3-point line.
Harrison Barnes played well, but he had to first loosen the ankle he sprained in Las Vegas against UNLV.
He ankle appeared perfectly fine, frankly. Barnes went 6-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, 6-of-7 on free throws. He attacked the basket and showed his skills as a jump-shooter as well.
Barnes did a lot of his damage late in the second half when the Tar Heels needed some points to maintain the lead. He finished with 20 points after scoring six in the first half.
"He made some big-time shots," Williams said. "I saw his mother this morning, and I said, 'Your son's going to play a big-time game of basketball tonight. And I really believe he did."
The Badgers surged ahead early in the second, but then the Tar Heels took control with their defense.
"Defensively, we stopped giving them second-chance opportunities and because we were getting stops on defense," Barnes said, "we were able to get out on the break."