Freeman leads State over Carolina in OT

NC State hit 15 three pointers, including seven of seven from Allerik Freeman, to upset North Carolina 95-91 in overtime in Chapel Hill. (1/27) While there were 10 ties and nine lead changes, the Tar Heels led about 15 of the 20 minutes in the second half and were six points up with 6:30 to go. A pair of threes by State, one by Braxton Beverly and one by Freeman, tied the score as Luke Maye and Joel Berry missed free throws for Carolina. UNC got back in front but the Wolfpack’s Torin Dorn drained a three with 1:31 to […]

NC State hit 15 three pointers, including seven of seven from Allerik Freeman, to upset North Carolina 95-91 in overtime in Chapel Hill. (1/27)

While there were 10 ties and nine lead changes, the Tar Heels led about 15 of the 20 minutes in the second half and were six points up with 6:30 to go.

A pair of threes by State, one by Braxton Beverly and one by Freeman, tied the score as Luke Maye and Joel Berry missed free throws for Carolina.

UNC got back in front but the Wolfpack’s Torin Dorn drained a three with 1:31 to tie it. Berry had a chance to give Carolina the lead with 40 seconds left but a driving layup rimmed out. State’s Markell Johnson took advantage with a drive of his own that gave the Pack an 83-81 lead with 11 seconds left.

UNC’s Cam Johnson was fouled with four seconds to go and hit both free throws to send the game into overtime.

But the Tar Heels turned the ball over five times in overtime. State took the lead at 88-85 on Freeman’s seventh three pointer and the Tar Heels, despite a pair of three pointers by Maye, never tied or led again.

“I don’t know what’s lacking,” said UNC’s Theo Pinson, who had a career high 22 points and 15 rebounds but missed two key free throws in overtime. “We just didn’t make the plays at the end like we normally do.”

It briefly looked like it might be one of those Carolina comebacks that have spoiled Tar Heels fan since the days of Coach Dean Smith. After Maye, who led the Heels with 31 points, drained a high arching three with 6.7 seconds left, UNC’s Kenny Williams knocked the ball away on the inbounds and freshman Sterling Manley came up with it. But he played hot potato with it and quickly gave it right back to the Pack with three seconds left.

“He’s a freshman. He panicked a little,” said UNC coach Roy Williams, who placed blame for the loss on several factors.

For one, he thought the Pack got too many open looks as they went 15 of 20 beyond the arc. And then, Carolina didn’t shoot well as the Heels were just four of 19 from three-point land and 11 of 20 from the free throw line.

“We’ve been a good free throw shooting team but we missed opportunities there today, no question,” Coach Williams said. “And we’ve got to shoot better.”

Execution down the stretch was lacking, he said, as the Heels turned the ball over and failed to box out, especially on one play late in overtime. With the Pack leading 89-88, State missed and Carolina had three men under the basket ready for the rebound but no one boxed out Omer Yuriseven, who hauled it in and scored to put the Wolfpack up 91-88 with 31 seconds left.

It’s the second straight ACC loss for the Tar Heels, who fall to 5-4 in the league. While the losses are mounting up, Coach Williams said he just wants his team to play better at this point. “I’m not ready to panic and abandon ship,” he said.

The Tar Heels, now 16-6 overall, play at Clemson Tuesday night. The Wolfpack, led by Freeman’s career-high 29 points, improves to 15-7 and 5-4 in the ACC. “I think these guys are learning how to fight,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said, “and I think they’re learning how to compete.”

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

(UNC Sports Information Photo.)

(UNC Sports Information Photo.)