North Carolina and NC State squared off Saturday afternoon in another spirited rivalry showdown. The two sides produced the kind of battle expected, but it was the Tar Heels who eventually pulled away down the stretch.

The Wolfpack did not go quietly, taking a 45-37 lead on the road into halftime. A large part of that effort came via a 57% shooting effort in the first half while going 7-for-11 from 3-point range. North Carolina would turn things around in the second half, coming alive defensively to hold NC State to a 6-for-27 shooting effort from the floor.

Offensively Jayden Taylor contributed a huge team-high 22 points for NC State off the bench, but DJ Horne was the only other player in double figures. DJ Burns Jr. struggled to get going and finished 3-for-9 from the field in the loss.

For the Tar Heels, Harrison Ingram led the team with 22 points while Elliot Cadeau (15), RJ Davis (14) and Armando Bacot (13) also scored in double figures. Here are the key takeaways from the performance:

UNC closes in on ACC title

The ACC race is yet to be decided, but North Carolina inches ever closer to the outright regular-season title with the win. Pending Duke’s ongoing game vs. Virginia, North Carolina holds a 1.5-game lead atop the league standings with two games to play.

Another win for the Tar Heels will guarantee the program at least a share of the league title. While it is unwise to assume anything at this point of the season, North Carolina’s next game comes against Notre Dame.

Beating the Irish would allow North Carolina to play for the outright title in Cameron Indoor Stadium on the final day of the regular season (pending Duke’s results). The rivalry has traditionally played for some big-time stakes, but that would be some of the biggest in recent memory.

While UNC is still one of the premier ACC programs, the Tar Heels have not claimed any part of the ACC title since the 2018-19 season. That included a shared title with Virginia. To find the last outright title for the Tar Heels, you have to go all the way back to the 2016-17 season.

Hubert Davis has had some mixed results in his first 3 seasons leading UNC, but he has the program clicking this season. Now, it’s important to nail down his first ACC title and snap the drought in Chapel Hill.

RELATED: As UNC prepares for the ACC Basketball Tournament, stay up to date on the latest postseason odds at DraftKings.

Armando Bacot searching for consistency

There’s no denying the importance of Armando Bacot, but the star big man is still looking for a bit of consistency at this point in the season. After back-to-back games with 20+ points to open February, Bacot has just one game with 20+ in the 6 games since.

He did hit double figures with 13 points against NC State, but his efficiency trailed off after shooting just 4-for-12 from the field. In the win over Miami, Bacot had just 5 points and shot 1-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Some nights, Bacot’s overall numbers have more to do with his usage than anything else, but there is some cause for concern. He’ll need to find a more consistent touch entering the tournament season.

Tar Heels looking to ride 1-2 punch in March

While Bacot took a backseat Saturday, Harrison Ingram posted another dynamic performance for the Tar Heels. In fact, it was Ingram’s first 20-point game since he delivered 21 against Duke, but his effort has to have fans excited for March.

Ingram shot 8-for-14 from the floor and 2-for-5 from 3-point range to go with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Finding his touch from 3-point range is also a good sign after he went 1-for-10 from deep in his previous 3 games.

Overall, the Tar Heels are still going to be driven by RJ Davis, and he delivered a balanced effort with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists on Saturday. But getting Ingram on track could give the Tar Heels one of the best 1-2 punches in the entire NCAA Tournament.