CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The combination of Rashad McCants and Sean May proved too much for No. 8 Kentucky.
McCants scored 20 of his 28 points in the first half and May added 12 of his 14 in the second as No. 11 North Carolina earned a 91-78 victory over Kentucky in a matchup of the two winningest programs in NCAA history.
The two schools have combined for 3,713 wins, 81 NCAA Tournament appearances and 10 national championships. The Wildcats have posted 1,880 wins and the Tar Heels 1,833.
The win for North Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak against Kentucky.
McCants helped the Tar Heels (6-1) jump out to a huge early lead, stripping the ball from Ramel Bradley and racing down the court for a slam dunk and a 24-6 cushion just 7:28 into the contest.
"We wanted to make the statement early that the loss to Santa Clara wasn't suppose to happen, but it did," McCants said. "And we had to bounce back really quick, and so we wanted to come out and jump on them early. Let them know that our pressure wasn't to be reckoned with."
He also capped the first half with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, lifting North Carolina to a 47-32 advantage. Overall, the junior shot 4-of-7 from the arc and is 23-for-43 for the season.
"He's playing a lot more comfortable in his second year under coach (Roy) Williams," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said about McCants. "He's understanding where to take his shot and he's patient.
"We didn't really have an answer for him. He got to the free-throw line when he wanted to." McCants, who scored 19 points and hit five 3-pointers in a 70-63 win against Indiana on Wednesday, was 10-of-11 from the line.
Kentucky (4-1) cut the deficit to 51-43 three minutes into the second, but May had a dunk and layup in the next 38 seconds to push the Tar Heels' lead to 55-43. May, who scored 11 points in an eight-minute span in the second half, also grabbed 19 rebounds.
The performance was a nice confidence boost for the 6-9 junior, who struggled against Indiana in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting.
"I really feel happy for Sean," Williams said. "He had a tough game Wednesday night and made some big plays for us."
Jawad Williams scored 19 points and David Noel added 10 for North Carolina, which pounded the Wildcats on the boards, 51-30, and shot 40 free throws to Kentucky's 16.
Ray Felton, who scored a season-high 18 against the Hoosiers, scored just three points and had five turnovers. He missed all five of his shots and six of nine free throws.
Kelenna Azubuike, who scored 21 against Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, scored 24 points and had four 3-pointers. Freshman Joe Crawford chipped in 11 for Kentucky, which fell to 10-17 in the historic series. Power forward Chuck Hayes fouled out with just four points in 22 minutes.
"We allowed them to control the tempo from the start," Smith said. "The biggest thing we concentrated on was transition defense and we were very poor at that all day long giving up layup after layup.
"We gave up a lot of second shots. I don't think I've ever had a team get outrebounded by 21."