Heels fight back, refuse to get “punked”

Once again North Carolina fell down early by doubled digits and trailed at the half but came from behind to win – this time winning 75-63 against fellow Blue Blood Kentucky, who have five players foul out. (12/19) Armando Bacot, who led UNC with 14 points including 10 coming on second-chance points, used salty language to say that the big guys were not going to be pushed around this season. “We’re not going to be punked this year if guys think they can push us around,” he added. Four Kentucky big men tried to push the Heels around and they […]

Once again North Carolina fell down early by doubled digits and trailed at the half but came from behind to win – this time winning 75-63 against fellow Blue Blood Kentucky, who have five players foul out. (12/19)

Armando Bacot, who led UNC with 14 points including 10 coming on second-chance points, used salty language to say that the big guys were not going to be pushed around this season. “We’re not going to be punked this year if guys think they can push us around,” he added.

Four Kentucky big men tried to push the Heels around and they had some success early on, getting 14 second-chance points in the first half, compared to just five for the Tar Heels. All that changed in the second half as Carolina got 13 second-chance points compared to just two for the Wildcats.

The fouls started mounting for Kentucky in the second half as officials called 35 second-half fouls between the two teams with four Wildcats fouling out of the game.

Bacot said the Heels knew if they could get a couple of the Kentucky big men in foul trouble it… and it did.

Carolina trailed 19-8 early and, despite fighting back to take a lead, trailed 38-34 at the break. The Heels still trailed 48-42 with 13 minutes to go.

That’s when freshman Kerwin Walton, playing a little more because of R.J. Davis’ bruised knee and some foul concerns, drained back-to-back three pointers to set the Carolina bench afire and tying the score at 49-all with 12 minutes to play.

Seconds later Walton hit a pair of free throws to put the Heels up 51-49. While it stayed tight until the last five minutes, Kentucky never led again.

“I knew my time was coming,” said Walton, who far eclipsed his previous high with 13 points, 10 more than he had scored in a game. “Every shot I took felt good. I expect every shot I take to go in.”

Another freshman, Puff Johnson, hit a big running floater to put Carolina up 54-49 – at that time the Heels largest lead of the game.

“There’s no question that Kerwin and Puff gave us the biggest lift of the game,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

With 5:31 left, Carolina got the margin up to seven when Caleb Love delivered an alley-oop pass to Garrison Brooks who dunked it for a 61-54 advantage.

The Tar Heels hit their last seven free throws of the game to work the lead up to 12 points, the final margin.

Carolina, now 5-2, has completed non-conference play and returns to action Tuesday at rival N.C. State.

For a box score and more on the game, please click here.