CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- Sean Harrington made a career-high six 3-pointers as No. 20 Illinois put an end to No. 14 North Carolina's unbeaten start with a 92-65 victory in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Harrington's first 3-pointer gave Illinois (4-0) a 19-17 lead with 11:14 left in the first half and it never trailed again. He finished with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Harrington led an Illinois attack that shot 52 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range. In the second half, when Harrington scored 14 of his points, the Illini shot 62.5 percent from the field and 67 percent on 3-pointers.
Brian Cook, who scored 17 points on Sunday in his season debut against Western Illinois, led the Fighting Illini with 22 points. Cook missed the first two games of the season on a suspension for participating in an unsanctioned summer tournament.
Cook also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists. Freshman guard Dee Brown led the Illini with six assists and scored 12 points in his first game against a ranked opponent.
Illinois notched its first win over North Carolina (5-1) since 1951 and its first-ever win in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Tar Heels are 0-4 all-time in the event.
North Carolina, which got off to a surprising 5-0 start by winning the Preseason NIT, looked more like the team that went 8-20 last season. The Tar Heels, who have nine freshmen and sophomores on their roster, were outscored 52-29 in the second half and could not recover after a 15-5 run gave Illinois a 57-45 lead shortly after halftime.
The Tar Heels slumped to 36 percent shooting in the second half after hitting 47 percent of their first half shots. North Carolina did not hit a 3-pointer after halftime, making it particularly difficult to keep Illinois from growing its lead.
Freshman Sean May led North Carolina with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while sophomore Jawad Williams added 15.
North Carolina freshman sensation Rashad McCants, the MVP of the Preseason NIT, had a rough game with 13 points and eight rebounds. His backcourt mate, fellow freshman Raymond Felton, had just nine points and three assists.
The most glaring weakness for North Carolina was its perimeter defense, which allowed Harrington and company plenty of open looks. The Tar Heels also received just seven points from their bench.
The victory for Illinois cut the ACC's lead to 5-4 in the Challenge with four games left Wednesday.