Shakeel Moore is a tough-nosed guard who made his reputation on the AAU circuit as a bulldog defender.
No matter what he does for the rest of his NC State career, the freshman from Greensboro will be remembered for a highlight dunk and a breakout performance in a 79-76 win over No. 17 North Carolina on Tuesday.
UNC (5-3, 0-1 ACC) had two chances in the final 10 seconds to tie the game but 3-pointers from R.J. Davis and Caleb Love were each off the mark.
Moore, who had averaged 5.2 points in his first five college games, scored 17 points to help the Wolfpack (5-1, 1-0) break a 7-game home losing streak to the Tar Heels.
“It was big just because it’s the first ACC game,” Moore said. “It’s our rival. It was big for me to step up and get the minutes and show up.”
It was Moore’s dunk, at 10:28 in the second half, that Wolfpack fans will “like” and “retweet” on social media and in their own memory scrolls.
“Shak is a monster and he’s still getting his feet wet,” senior guard Devon Daniels said in the post-game. “The biggest thing with our freshman is they have no fear.”
Moore, who is 6-1, drove baseline around UNC forward Garrison Brooks and then elevated to dunk over UNC freshman Walker Kessler, who is 7-1.
Moore, who hit his first three 3-pointers, said his early success with the jumper set Brooks up for the move.
“I just figured one simple pump fake and rip baseline and I could get that and show my athleticism there,” Moore said.
Daniels added 21 points for the Wolfpack, who led by as many as 17 points in the first half with Moore popping off for 13 before the break. Forward Manny Bates added 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
Before Daniels sat down for the post-game Zoom press conference, he said: “We finally got those boys!”
NC State’s last home win over the Tar Heels was in 2013.
“I’m so happy,” Daniels said. “Just during the game. I could feel the growth with our team. This was a whole team win.”
NC State made just 11 of 20 from the free-throw line to keep the door open late for the Tar Heels, who were led by sophomore forward Armando Bacot (16 points).
UNC’s young guards have had trouble taking care of the ball this season and the Tar Heels have been slow starters. Both storylines continued for UNC, who turned the ball over seven times in the first 12 minutes as the Wolfpack jumped out to 32-19 lead.
NC State was buoyed by a 66.7 percent (6 of 9) performance from the 3-point line.
Bacot helped the Heels quickly cut into State’s margin before the end of the half. It was 49-42 by the break and the Heels trailed 53-51 and 57-55 and 59-57.
But after dominating NC State in a pair of wins last season, senior forward Garrison Brooks struggled from the floor (5 of 14) and managed only 10 points.
State was up 59-57 when Moore exploded for a dunk that would have lit up what would have been a sold-out PNC Arena. Instead, it was his scream that echoed throughout the empty building.
NC State pulled ahead by 13, 77-64, after a layup by guard Thomas Allen at 5:13. And then UNC started to chip away. The Heels made it 77-73 with 1:03 left before Daniels made a pair of free throws.
Braxton Beverly and Daniels then missed four straight free throws in the final minute but UNC couldn’t take advantage.
“We bent a little bit but we never broke,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
Notes: Freshman guard Cam Hayes had missed the previous two games due to COVID-19 protocols. He added seven points in 11 minutes. … Senior forward D.J. Funderburk missed his third straight game due to COVID protocols. … NC State improved to 5-32 against Roy Williams while Keatts, in his fourth-year, has a 2-5 record against Williams.