They extended their lead to 20-12 halfway through the first half as UNC struggled with Armando Bacot in the locker room with a left ankle injury and star Cole Anthony on the bench. North Carolina entered the under-12 timeout hitting just one of its last eight shots.
Anthony, as he often does, went on a mini-run to reinvigorate the Tar Heels. With an assist to Garrison Brooks and two 3-pointers, he cut UNC’s deficit to 25-22 and brought a capacity Smith Center crowd to its feet for the first time.
The game slowed down from there — at halftime, Ohio State led 29-27. UNC ended the half shooting making just one of its last 10 shots; the Buckeyes ended it on a 4:01 scoring drought.
Anthony made another pair of 3-pointers early in the second half, which combated a quick 10 points in the first four minutes for the Buckeyes. But, unlike in the first half, Ohio State didn't slow down this time.
With contributions from guard Duane Washington Jr. and forwards Kaleb Wesson and E.J. Liddell, the Buckeyes got out to a 14-point lead.
At the 10:42 mark, UNC coach Roy Williams sent in a mass substitution of bench players and, in turn, got a burst of life. Justin Pierce hit two quick shots, and K.J. Smith and Walker Miller drew charges. At the under-eight, UNC trailed 56-45.
Who stood out?
UNC needed Anthony to shoulder its offensive load; he did at a cost. The first-year scored a team-high 15 points but did so on just 4-15 shooting (27 percent).
The Tar Heels also got decent contributions from Pierce (seven points, three steals) and Brandon Robinson (nine points).
Washington, a sophomore, led the Buckeyes with 18 points. Wesson and Liddell also scored in double figures.
When was it decided?
UNC's starters re-entered the game at the 6:37 mark with their team trailing 60-47. In the next few minutes, though, Ohio State ripped off an 11-0 run that boosted its lead to 24 and had fans headed to the exits before the four-minute mark.
Why does it matter?
UNC's struggles come in the middle of a tough schedule; the Tar Heels, who lost to Michigan and beat Oregon in the Bahamas last week, head to UVA. Saturday and will also play at Gonzaga on Dec. 21.
The team has also scored less than 80 points in each of its first eight games — the first time it’s happened since the 1949-50 season.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Charlottesville to face ACC foe and reigning national champion Virginia this Sunday at 4 p.m., their second conference matchup of the season before the official start of league play.
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