COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- North Carolina didn't need any help from apparitions. It just seemed that way to cold-shooting Ohio State.
Wayne Ellington and Deon Thompson led a second-half surge and the Tar Heels (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 1 AP) held Ohio State without a field goal for almost 11 minutes in a 66-55 victory Wednesday night.
The game turned when the Buckeyes missed 17 consecutive shots from the field, a span during which a 39-39 tie turned into a 57-43 deficit.
"The ball went down in the hole," Buckeyes guard Jamar Butler said. "It seemed like a ghost was in there, knocking it out."
Ellington, averaging 17 points per game, scored 23 points and Thompson had 14, most at critical times for the Tar Heels (6-0). Tyler Hansbrough was just 6-of-19 from the field and had 13 points and 11 rebounds in one of the premier matchups of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
"I'm a lot more confident now, plus I'm taking better shots," said Ellington, one of the few players in the game with decent offensive stats. "This was one of those grind-it-out type of games. Defensively, we were really good, especially in the second half."
Freshman Jon Diebler came out of a shooting slump to score 19 points for Ohio State (4-2), which had won six of its last seven games against No. 1 teams. Butler added 17 points and David Lighty had 10.
North Carolina was without starting point guard Ty Lawson. He was dressed but did not go through warmups and wore a high plastic brace on his injured right ankle.
Maybe it was his absence, or maybe it was Ohio State's sticky zone but it took the Tar Heels a long time to solve the cloying, trapping defense.
They finally found some seams midway through the second half.
"Neither team made shots early. We got better shots in the second half," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "Ellington made some big 3s and played a great game, and Ohio State missed some shots that they normally won't."
After seven ties and six lead changes, the Tar Heels broke free from a 39-39 tie on a fast-break three-point play by Marcus Ginyard.
At the other end, the Buckeyes had trouble hitting a shot, and North Carolina took advantage.
Ahead 42-40, they stretched the lead on Thompson's dunk after picking up a loose ball, and then Ellington, a thorn in Ohio State's side all night, drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead to seven. After another Buckeyes miss from the field -- their ninth in a row -- Thompson's follow made it 49-40 with under 12 minutes remaining.
The Buckeyes missed 17 straight shots, harkening back to their troubles in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off when they hit just one of 18 shots to start the second half of a lopsided defeat to No. 9 Texas A&M.
"It was deja vu from last Friday night, that second-half shooting," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "The ball just would not go in the basket."
Down as many as 12 points with 6½ minutes left, Ohio State finally started finding the range from the field. An 8-0 run built on 3s by Lighty and Diebler cut the deficit to 57-51.
Then with 3:27 left and the lead still at six, Ellington tossed in a 3-point dagger from the left wing. The Buckeyes never got close again.
"He's a great player. Everyone knows that -- he's one of the best wings in the nation," Diebler said. "He did what he had to do and made big shots."
North Carolina dominated the boards 58-42 although neither team was able to do much offensively before a packed house at Value City Arena.
The Tar Heels shot 38 percent and Ohio State hit 27 percent from the field. After leading 32-29 at the half, the Buckeyes mustered just 23 percent in the second half.
"One of our keys was to pressure the ball and stop their open looks," Hansbrough said. "That was the difference in the second half."
The Tar Heels were playing their third of six games away from the Smith Center. Seven of their first nine games are away from home and they don't play again in Chapel Hill until Dec. 19.
Ohio State fell to 1-5 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and to 2-9 against North Carolina.