BOSTON -- Ky Bowman nearly pulled another fast one on North Carolina.
The Havelock, N.C., native was once a verbal commit to play football in Chapel Hill but later backed out to pursue his dream of playing basketball.
On Saturday, the hometown-turned Boston College star nearly derailed the Tar Heels' run among the nation's elite with a career-high-tying 33-point performance.
But his efforts weren't enough to send BC past ninth-ranked North Carolina in a 90-82 loss at Conte Forum.
"For a while it was the Ky Bowman show," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "He was unbelievable."
Williams recalled a conversation he had with his school's former football coach Larry Fedora, who was in hot pursuit of Bowman's talents.
"Several, several years ago, Larry Fedora called me and wanted to know if I would let a football player play basketball, and I said yes. He said it was a guy from Havelock, N.C., that they were recruiting really, really hard," Williams said.
"Tell Larry he needs to do a doggone better job of recruiting," the legendary coach quipped.
Bowman committed to UNC football as a sophomore at Havelock High School, but basketball was his true passion and Eagles coach Jim Christian helped make it a reality.
"If I would have gone to UNC, I always wanted to stop football in my second year," said Bowman, who also passed on an offer to play football at Alabama. "When I stopped (playing football), Coach Christian came down and that's when I came here."
"He's a catalyst and he's a very confident player," Christian said of Bowman. "Nobody on our team is surprised. People who haven't seen him are probably surprised, but nobody on our team."
Justin Jackson logged his ninth 20-point game of the season with a team-high 22 and Kennedy Meeks added 20 points and nine rebounds for North Carolina (18-3, 6-1 ACC), which won its sixth straight game.
The Tar Heels' only loss in the last nine games was a 75-63 decision at Georgia Tech in their ACC opener on Dec. 31.
"The ACC is tough this year," Meeks said. "Boston College is another one of those teams that's done a great job. They've just fallen a little short."
Bowman scored 21 points in the first half and made 7 of 9 3-pointers in the game while Jerome Robinson, who hails from Raleigh, N.C., finished with 18 points for Boston College (9-11, 2.5), which has dropped three straight and five of its last six.
Bowman was held to seven points and Robinson had nine in the Eagles' 71-54 loss to No. 16 Virginia on Wednesday.
"I was so disappointed after Wednesday night because that's not who we are, that's not how we play," Christian said. "To me, this is who we are."
Boston College last defeated a ranked opponent on Feb. 19, 2014, a 62-59 overtime victory at No. 1 Syracuse.
The Eagles also took the Tar Heels to the brink last Feb. 9 at Conte Forum before falling 68-65. Williams left that game after collapsing during a timeout.
Williams reached the 800-win milestone in the Tar Heels' 85-68 win over Syracuse on Monday, doing so in his 29th season -- the fewest in NCAA history to reach that mark.
North Carolina led 34-33 at halftime and kept Boston College at an arm's length for much of the second half, leading by no more than seven until Joel Berry II's 3-pointer with 1:13 left pushed it to nine.
Bowman's layup with 8:44 remaining brought the Eagles to within 61-59, but they couldn't come closer. Kenny Williams' two free throws with 35 seconds left pushed the Tar Heels' lead back to double digits.
The Tar Heels' halftime advantage was trimmed to one point after they led by as many as 10.
Berry's free throw with 6:18 to play before intermission gave North Carolina a 27-17 advantage, but Bowman scored 10 straight points to erase the deficit.
Bowman caped the run with a breakaway dunk after stripping Berry of the ball, tying the game at 29-29 with 3:47 on the clock.
The Eagles had multiple looks to take their first lead but only managed to get within a point twice, including on Bowman's 3-pointer with three ticks left in the half.
-- North Carolina has won 10 straight against Boston College and leads the series 16-5. The Eagles' last win in the series was their lone victory at Conte Forum, a 71-67 decision on Feb. 20, 2010.
-- Tar Heels F Tony Bradley had five points and six rebounds in his return from a two-game absence with a concussion. He sustained the injury on Jan. 11 at Wake Forest and returned to practice Wednesday.
-- For the first time in school history, North Carolina has scored 85-plus points in six straight conference games.
-- Eagles F A.J. Turner entered the game ranked first in the ACC and 16th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3).
-- Boston College visits Miami on Wednesday. North Carolina hosts Virginia Tech on Thursday.