After a series of games with second-half offensive bursts, the North Carolina Tar Heels guard did even more damage in overtime against a bitter in-state rival.
Paige scored on a runner down the left side of the lane with 0.9 seconds left to give No. 19 North Carolina an 85-84 victory against the host North Carolina State Wolfpack on Wednesday night at PNC Arena.
"With seven seconds left, we knew we can make something happen," Paige said. "I knew I wasn't settling for a jump shot."
Paige, a sophomore, finished with 35 points, including 10 in overtime. He had just four points at halftime, so all seven of his 3-point baskets came in the second half or overtime.
Sophomore forward T.J. Warren scored the first six points of overtime as part of his career-best 36-point performance for N.C. State (17-11, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), which desperately needed a resume-boosting victory.
N.C. State scored on seven of eight overtime possessions. With 7.7 seconds left, Warren missed a free throw before making the second attempt for a one-point lead.
North Carolina (21-7, 11-4) was out of timeouts and Paige drove deep into N.C. State's defense for the winning shot.
"It was great the way the game went, that's as intense as you can have it," Paige said. "They went up six (in overtime) and they thought they had the game. The margin of error when you're down six in overtime is very slim."
Paige ended up with 20 of North Carolina's final 32 points. His final shot was the most important.
"That's a hard shot," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "You have to give him credit for that. ... It's a one-basket game here and there and that's what it's such a great game."
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he preferred that the ball was in Paige's hands.
"He's a competitor and he wants to make plays," Williams said. "He doesn't mind taking shots when they mean something."
Another offensive outburst from Warren could not be overlooked. He made 13 of 25 shots from the field.
"That's one of the best performances, no question about it," Gottfried said. "And they're trying to key on him."
North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo, who was 1 of 10 from the field at the time, tied the game from the low post with 30 seconds to play in overtime.
Forward J.P. Tokoto scored 16 points for the Tar Heels, who won their 10th game in a row and pulled within a half-game of Duke for third place in the ACC standings.
Guard Ralston Turner had 16 points and reserve forward BeeJay Anya added 10 points for N.C. State.
North Carolina was in position to win in regulation when Paige's two free throws with 3.6 seconds left gave the Tar Heels a 61-59 edge. The Wolfpack was out of timeouts.
After the ball was batted out of bounds by North Carolina on the Wolfpack's first inbound attempt, North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald fouled Warren on the next throw-in with 1.5 seconds left. Warren sank both foul shots.
North Carolina, which trailed by 11 points in the first half, closed within one a couple of times during the first eight minutes of the second half. Paige's third 3-pointer in about a three-minute span made it 52-51 with less than eight minutes to play.
The Tar Heels took the lead on the next possession on Tokoto's basket. That was the first time North Carolina was on top in about 25 minutes of game time.
After guard Desmond Lee hit from long range for the Wolfpack, Paige's fourth 3 of the half gave the Tar Heels the lead back at 56-55.
Warren, the ACC scoring leader, picked up his fourth foul with 8:01 to play. He had 10 first-half points despite hitting only 3 of 10 shots from the field.
N.C. State held a 34-26 halftime lead despite missed opportunities to keep a larger lead at the break.