North Carolina held only a five-point lead at halftime, but the Norse missed their first eight shots of the second period.
The Tar Heels reached 9-3 for the season with their fifth victory in six games. Their only loss in that stretch came at home against unranked Texas.
Leslie McDonald and Marcus Paige both had 11 points for North Carolina, which shot 46 percent from the field and turned the ball over six more times than did Northern Kentucky.
The Norse (4-8), who play in Division II of the NCAA, were paced by 13 points from Tyler White.