LAS VEGAS (WFIE) - LAS VEGAS - Malik Monk scored a Kentucky freshman record 47 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left to lead the sixth-ranked Wildcats past No. 7 North Carolina 103-100 on Saturday in a thrilling showdown of traditional powers.
North Carolina's Justin Jackson nearly outshined Monk with 34 points, and his basket with 45 seconds left put the Tar Heels (10-2) ahead after trailing much of the second half.
Monk responded with a right-wing 3 in transition to put Kentucky up 101-100 after it led much of the second half. After Isaiah Hicks only hit the backboard at the other end, Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left.
North Carolina got the ball in the front court with less than a second left. But Kenny Williams' desperation 3 at the buzzer got lodged between the rim and backboard.
Monk hit 18 of 28 shots, including 8 of 12 3-point attempts, scoring in various ways in an electric performance that was the most points in Division I this season. And Kentucky needed it to offset Jackson's 4 3s and 10 free throws in a game played at a furious pace
Fox added 24 points for Kentucky (10-1), which shot 54 percent from the field.
Joel Berry II returned from injury to add 23 points for the Tar Heels, but was slowed by foul trouble in the second half.
The sold-out enthusiastic crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena just off the Las Vegas Strip made it feel like an Elite Eight game. The quality of play in the CBS Sports Classic matchup gave it more of a Final Four feel.
With two of the highest-scoring and fastest teams squaring off, Kentucky coach John Calipari joked earlier in the week he and fellow Hall of Famer Roy Williams would be constantly yelling, "Get back!" on defense.
In their 38th meeting between the schools and the first in two years, Monk dominated early and Kentucky raced to a 12-point lead. Jackson and Berry, who returned from a two-game absence due to a sprained left ankle, kept scoring off the dribble as North Carolina got within 56-51 at halftime.
There was hardly time to catch a breath. Kentucky got the lead back to five as Monk reached 36 points to give him the most by a Kentucky freshman. Then Berry, who scored 23 points, picked up his fourth foul as Kentucky built its lead to 83-74. Berry eventually fouled out.
The Tar Heels rallied to tie it on Tony Bradley's two free throws with 2:51 left and went ahead on Jackson's 3 with 1:33 remaining.
Kentucky: Monk couldn't have put on a better display in a bigger setting, solidifying his star status and putting fear into Southeastern Conference opponents.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels never slowed the pace and was happy playing uptempo for 40 minutes. But foul trouble and the inability to contain Monk and others off the dribble cost them a chance at a big pre-conference victory.
It marked the 13th time both teams entered the matchup in the Top 10. A game played with this pace and skill had to impress the rest of college basketball.
It gets no easier for Kentucky, which travels to rival No. 11 Louisville on Wednesday.