All Malcolm Mackey wanted was to keep Georgia Tech close. He got what he wanted, and then some.

Mackey converted a three-point play with three seconds left yesterday and the Yellow Jackets rallied from a 16-point deficit to upset seventh-ranked North Carolina, 88-86, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

"What I wanted to do is make a game out of it," Mackey said. "No one hardly ever beats them here. I was thinking 'Let's don't get embarrassed like we did against Duke on national TV.' We came back and never gave up in the second half and came up with the victory. That's good."

Mackey scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half as the Yellow Jackets (12-5, 4-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) broke a five-game losing streak in the Smith Center and won their first game in Chapel Hill since the 1984-85 season. Mackey also had 17 rebounds.

North Carolina took two timeouts after Mackey's points. After the second, George Lynch tossed a low pass to Rick Fox, who dribbled from the right wing along the baseline and banked in a short jumper. But referee Rick Hartzell waved off the basket, ruling it came after the final buzzer.

"He shouldn't have gone baseline that easy," Mackey said, explaining that there was a defensive mixup. "I think it was a tough break for them that he ran out of time like that."

Fox didn't argue with the call.

"I think George said it best. We found out tonight that the play takes three seconds instead of two," Fox said.

The Tar Heels (14-3, 3-2) led 56-40 after two free throws by Hubert Davis with 17:35 remaining. From there, Georgia Tech's rally began with a three-pointer by Jon Barry at 16:45. Lynch got a layup, but the Yellow Jackets responded with a 19-1 run and led 62-59 after Bryan Hill's dunk with 12:09 left.

The lead changed hands five more times. Fox made two free throws with 11 seconds left to give North Carolina an 86-85 lead.

Arizona St. 58, Stanford 47: Tarence Wheeler's three-point basket broke a 10-minute field goal drought by the Sun Devils and set them on their way to handing the Cardinal its second straight home loss and third consecutive Pacific-10 defeat.

Stanford (10-8, 3-5) had cut a 38-25 deficit to 41-39 with 2:50 remaining, holding the Sun Devils (12-5, 3-4) to three free throws in the 10:24 span. Wheeler's three-pointer with 2:08 to play gave Arizona State a five-point lead, and after a Stanford basket, he made two free throws with 1:35 left. The Sun Devils never led by fewer than five points the rest of the way.