Balanced Heels win impressively at Louisville

Five was the lucky number for North Carolina at Louisville Saturday night. The Tar Heels’ impressive 93-76 win at Louisville was the first time Carolina has won at Louisville in five attempts. It was UNC’s fifth straight victory, and all five starters scored in double figures. The Tar Heels raced out to a 13-point lead in the first six minutes of the game after Cam Johnson stroked a three to make it 19-6. Carolina went on to lead by as many as 19 after Joel Berry hit one of his five three pointers on the night from the left win […]

Five was the lucky number for North Carolina at Louisville Saturday night. The Tar Heels’ impressive 93-76 win at Louisville was the first time Carolina has won at Louisville in five attempts. It was UNC’s fifth straight victory, and all five starters scored in double figures.

The Tar Heels raced out to a 13-point lead in the first six minutes of the game after Cam Johnson stroked a three to make it 19-6. Carolina went on to lead by as many as 19 after Joel Berry hit one of his five three pointers on the night from the left win to put the Heels up 40-21 with seven minutes left in the half.

“We got out to a great start, shot the ball early,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

But Louisville used a 19-9 run of its own to cut the halftime margin to nine at 49-40. But a quick 8-2 run at the start of the second half, highlighted by back-to-back buckets by Kenny Williams, put the Heels back in control at 57-42 and set the tone for the second half.

Again Louisville fought back, cutting the lead to seven at 57-50 with a little more than 14 minutes left. But Berry got open for a three in the left corner to help snuff out that rally.

Carolina worked the lead back up to 14, thanks in part to a couple of aggressive buckets by freshman big man Sterling Manley. Yet again Louisville, behind Deng Adel (who scored 20) and Ray Spalding (who finished with 18), cut the lead to seven with less than four minutes to go.

That’s when Luke Maye, who was AWOL for most of the first half, popped in a three at the tail end of the shot clock to put Carolina back up by 10 at 83-73. That started a game-ending 13-3 UNC run.

“Luke hit a really big shot at the end of the shot clock,” said Coach Williams, who said Maye stunk it up the first half but started scoring as a result of six offensive rebounds in the second half. “He has a nose for the basketball.”

Five Tar Heels scored in double figures with Berry leading the way with 23, followed closely by Maye and Theo Pinson who tallied 19 each. Johnson added 12 and Williams chipped in 11.

“It’s hard to guard a team when all five guys can score,” Coach Williams said, adding that his squad held a 22-6 advantage in second-chance points. “All in all, we played really well.”

Carolina shot 48.6 percent from the floor, hitting 12 of 27 three pointers. The Heels sank nine of 10 free throws and outrebounded Louisville 44-32.

The Tar Heels, who play at Syracuse Wednesday night, improve to 21-7 and 10-5 in the ACC while Louisville falls to 18-9 and 8-6 in the league. The wins puts Carolina solidly in the top four in the conference, who would get a double bye in the ACC Tournament.

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

Theo Pinson dishes. (UNC Sports Informaton Photo.)

Theo Pinson dishes. (UNC Sports Informaton Photo.)