North Carolina trailed by eight at the half but clamped down defensively, allowing no field goals over a 10-minute stretch in the second half, to ease by N.C. State 79-70 in Chapel Hill. (3/2)
The Wolfpack shot lights out in the first half, going for 57.5 percent from the floor with seven three pointers. State rallied from a 36-31 deficit to a 45-37 lead at the break.
But Carolina came back quickly in the second half, tying the score at 48-all in the first four minutes of the second half after Elliott Cadeau converted an acrobatic basket on the run between three defenders.
Over the next seven minutes, Carolina outscored the Pack 18-4 to take control of the game. During that stretch State big man mostly sat on the bench after picking up his fourth foul. RJ Davis started the run with the three from the right win and Harrison Ingram ended it with a three from the left side.
The Tar Heels’ 13-point lead dwindled however as Carolina failed to score on eight of nine possessions. A Michael O’Connell three in transition and two free throws a few seconds later cut the State deficit to five at 73-68 with under three minutes to go.
It never got closer as Davis hit a jumper and a couple of free throws, and Cadeau wrapped it up with driving layup at the end of the shot clock.
State’s DJ Horne, who had 16 in the first half, ended with 20 points as the Heels’ Cormac Ryan kept him in check in the second half.
“Cormac’s on-ball defense against DJ Horne really helped us,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “Cormac has size and he made DJ work really hard in the second half.”
Horne said that the Wolfpack lost their focus during the 10-minute stretch where they failed to hit a field goal (although they did score from the free throw line). “We were getting frustrated with the ball not going in the basket,” he said.
Coach Davis also thinks a couple of tussles between players worked to Carolina’s advantage. “Once things got a little chippy I thought that got us going too,” he said. “We were fired up but we kept within our emotions.”
After one dust-up that involved Cadeau, the Heels went from three down to seven ahead in about six minutes.
Ingram led UNC with a season-high 22 points while Cadeau had one of his best games with 15 points and seven assists. Davis, who scored just two points in the first half, finished with 14 points while Armando Bacot finished out the double-figure scorers with 13 points.
The Wolfpack, now 17-12 and 9-9 in the ACC, was led by Jayden Taylor’s 22 points.
The Tar Heels, who host Notre Dame Tuesday night, improve to 23-6 and 15-3 in the ACC. A victory will ensure at least a share of the regular season title with a regular season finale at Duke looming.
For a box score and more on the game, please click here.