CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Jerry Stackhouse scored a career-high 28 points and made several key plays down the stretch Saturday as No. 2 North Carolina escaped with a 96-92 victory over Texas.
The Tar Heels, who won their 66th straight opener at home, trailed at halftime and through most of the second half until Stackhouse rallied his team, who could become No. 1 following top-ranked Arkansas' 104-80 loss to No. 3 Massachusetts on Friday.
Texas, with three starters back from the team that was 26-8 last season, led for the final time at 87-86 with 4:18 left. Stackhouse then blocked a shot and got a return feed from fellow sophomore Rasheed Wallace for a dunk that gave the Tar Heels the lead for good.
After Texas missed a 3-pointer, Stackhouse drove the baseline for a layup, then forced a turnover when he broke up an alley-oop pass on the Longhorns' next trip downcourt.
The Tar Heels, who shot 59 percent in the second half, almost threw the ball away twice in the final 41 seconds after Texas cut the lead to 92-90, but the final pass ended up in the arms of Wallace under the basket. He made the layup with 32.2 seconds left.
North Carolina's three sophomores combined for 66 points, with Wallace adding 20 points and 13 rebounds and Jeff McInnis 18 points. Stackhouse's previous high was 23 points against LSU last season.
Texas, which shot 55.6 percent in the first half and forced 16 turnovers, got 26 points from Terrence Rencher and 25 from Roderick Anderson.
North Carolina trailed 51-50 at halftime, but went on an 11-2 run to take a 61-53 lead.
However, Anderson and Rencher continued to hurt the Tar Heels with their outside quickness and penetrating ability. The Longhorns regained the lead with a 15-2 spurt as Rencher scored six and Anderson five.
North Carolina pulled to 81-81 with 5:59 left on a dunk by Donald Williams.
Texas led by as many as nine points in the first half.