It wasn't always pretty for the Tar Heels (7-2), from 19 missed free throws to seeing the Wildcats swat seven of their shots. Yet they managed to add another big name to their early wins against then-No. 1 Michigan State and then-No. 3 Louisville all coming while top scorer P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out due to NCAA eligibility concerns.
"I think especially after getting the two big games earlier in the year, we had more confidence and belief we could get this one done," Paige said. "But at the same time, it's not a game everyone in the room would pick us to win. We had to come out with the mentality that we've got to play hard and be the aggressor and let the chips fall from there."
Yes, the Tar Heels have confounded Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams by also losing at home to Belmont and following the Louisville win with a loss at UAB. But one thing is certain: This bunch shows up in its biggest games.
J.P. Tokoto added 15 points for the Tar Heels, who shot 57 percent after halftime and scored 20 points off turnovers to finally wrest control of a foul-filled game away from the Wildcats (8-3).
"I feel like with our team this year, mentally we're there and have built up that mentality that we're going to keep fighting, go to the next play and not worry about the last play," Tokoto said.
When it comes to the Wildcats, Calipari wants to see more from a team built around the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
The Wildcats dominated the boards, scored 19 second-chance points and hit 29 of 43 free throws in a game with 56 personal fouls. But with star rookie Julius Randle struggling, Kentucky shot 41 percent and committed 17 turnovers while trailing for most of the second half in its first true road game this year.
No. 1 Arizona 72, Michigan 70 • In Ann Arbor, Mich., Nick Johnson made six free throws over the final 25 seconds, and No. 1 Arizona held on for a victory over Michigan after rallying from an 11-point deficit in the second half.
The Wolverines (6-4) led by one when Johnson drew a foul on a drive with 24.6 seconds left. He made both free throws, and Michigan's Nik Stauskas missed at the other end. After a tie-up, the possession arrow gave the Wildcats (11-0) the ball with 9.5 seconds remaining.
Johnson pushed the lead to three with two more free throws, and Arizona fouled Spike Albrecht at the other end. Brandon Ashley scored 18 points for Arizona.
• No. 1 Arizona 72,Michigan 70
• No. 3 Ohio State 79,North Dakota State 62
• No. 4 Wisconsin 86, Eastern Kentucky 61
• No. 5 Michigan St. 67, Oakland 63
• No. 6 Louisville 79, Western Kentucky 63
• No. 7 Oklahoma St. 70, Louisiana Tech 55
• No. 18 North Carolina 82, No. 11 Kentucky 77
• No. 12 Wichita State 70, Tennessee 61
• No. 13 Kansas 80, New Mexico 63
• No. 15 Oregon 71, Illinois 64
• No. 20 Gonzaga 68, South Alabama 59
• No. 22 UMass 80, Northern Illinois 54