In the first three games, North Carolina got out to slow starts. This time, Armando Bacot didn’t let that happen as the Tar Heels got out to a 21-point lead in the first half and eased to an 80-64 win at home over James Madison. (11/20)
Bacot, who ended up with 19 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, already had a double-double at halftime with 11 points and 11 rebounds as the Heels went into the break with a 45-26 halftime advantage.
“Anything around him, he got it,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “He pursues the ball relentlessly and he’s impossible to box out.”
Davis said this game was a step forward for his Tar Heels, who was playing an undefeated James Madison team that he called one of the hottest teams in the country. “Defensively we were fantastic,” he said. “We rebounded extremely well.”
It was by far the best rebounding effort so far this year as Carolina outrebounded James Madison 50-34. Leaky Black has his career high rebounding as well with 12.
The Dukes came into the game averaging 105 points a game and shooting 58 percent from the floor, including 54 percent from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels held James Madison to just 34.8 percent, including just 26 percent from three.
“JMU has a chance to go to the (NCAA) tournament,” Bacot said. “Beating them the way we did does a lot for our confidence.”
However, a sloppy second half, highlighted by an early 12-2 James Madison run, was evenly played by both teams.
The Dukes got the margin all the way down to eight at 57-49 midway through the second half but Carolina went on an 8-1 run to get the lead back up to 15 and the lead never got under double figures again.
During that run, R.J. Davis, who led the Heels in scoring with 21 points, hit a baseline a runner and went coast to coast for a driving layup to make it 65-50.
Pete Nance was the third Carolina player in double figures as he scored 11.
Puff Johnson, who has been injured, got his first action of the season as he scored six, including a three from the corner, in 13 minutes of play. “It was great to see Puff out on the floor,” Coach Davis said. “Puff brings us energy and effort. The ball just finds him.”
Carolina, 4-0, plays Portland in a holiday tournament Thursday at 1 p.m. to start a five-game stretch on the road against tough competition.
For a box score and more on the game, please click here.