COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK - Jamar Smith scored 22 points, John Gilchrist had 20 and Maryland cranked up its defense in the second half to defeat No. 9 North Carolina, 90-84, last night at Comcast Center.
After yielding a season-high 49 points in the first half, Maryland (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) put the clamps on a powerful offense that surpassed 100 points in each of its first two conference games.
Sean May scored 18 points and Raymond Felton added 16 for the Tar Heels (10-3, 1-2), who have lost five straight regular- season games to Maryland.
North Carolina, which led by 10 points in the first half, went 11-for-34 from the field with eight turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
The Tar Heels next face No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday.
It was 78-78 before Smith - the only senior on the Maryland squad - made two foul shots. Travis Garrison then converted two at the line for a four-point lead with 1:24 to go.
May followed with a free throw, but Chris McCray made two foul shots for Maryland and Smith added another to make it 85-79 with 57 seconds left.
It was 86-84 before McCray made two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining. After the second went through the net he crossed his arms and mouthed, "It's over."
After trailing for most of the first half, the Terrapins used a 14-1 run to go up 62-55 with 14:08 left. Smith scored seven points in the surge, which provided Maryland its first lead since 4-3.
The Tar Heels closed to 62-61 before Gilchrist hit a jumper, Nik Caner-Medley made a 3-pointer and Gilchrist added two free throws for a 69-61 lead.
But North Carolina got three-pointers from Melvin Scott, Jawad Williams and Rashad McCants in a 17-9 run that tied it with 3:09 remaining.
Williams, who broke his nose in Sunday's 103-88 win over Georgia Tech, played with a protective mask and was held to five points in a backup role.
The Tar Heels came out running from the opening tip, and Maryland had trouble keeping the pace. North Carolina made 10 of its first 14 field goal attempts, the majority in transition, in taking a 25-18 lead.
It was 33-28 before Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe scored on an emphatic dunk. But he was called for hanging on the rim, and Felton made two free throws on the technical and two layups to spark a 7-0 run that made it 40-30.
With 7:19 left in the first half, North Carolina had more points than the Terrapins yielded in their previous game, an 87-38 rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Both teams figured to run the floor with abandon, and both teams opened with a dizzying pace, as Maryland and North Carolina traded baskets in the opening eight minutes, with the Tar Heels taking a 25-20 lead on 8-for-12 shooting.
Baltimore product Melvin Scott, Carolina's junior shooting guard, sparked the Tar Heels with eight points to push Carolina to the early advantage. His three-pointer broke a 7-7 tie with 17:30 left in the half, and his pull-up jumper finished a fast break on Carolina's next possession to make it 12-7 with 16:57 to go.
Scott was one of five different players who scored the first five baskets for the Tar Heels, who took advantage of five early turnovers by the Terps.
Maryland got a major boost from Gilchrist, who scored 13 points in the first half and sparked the Terps with seven points in the first five minutes. His three-pointer from the top of the key cut the Carolina lead to 12-10 with 16:09 left in the half. His eight-footer trimmed the lead to 18-12 five minutes into the half.
Terps center Jamar Smith, locked in a battle with Carolina sophomore Sean May, got warmed up with back-to-back lay-ups. His second answered the second three-pointer by Scott and pulled the Terps to within 23-18 with 13:20 left in the half.
But after Caner-Medley drove the lane for a layup to cut the margin to 25-20, the Tar Heels opened up a 29-20 cushion. Gilchrist blew a layup after stealing the ball near midcourt, and Maryland paid for it. McCants hit a 15-foot, baseline jumper. Then, after Maryland's eighth turnover, forward David Noel's jam made it 29-20.
Maryland responded with a 10-4 run, led by Ekene Ibekwe, who made his second start in place of sophomore Travis Garrison and scored four points during the run. His first basket came on a spectacular tip-in. His second came, which cut the Tar Heels' lead to 33-30 by virtue of an offensive rebound and vicious slam, which Ibekwe negated by hanging on the rim and drawing a technical foul.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.