The North Carolina men's basketball team (7-5, 1-1 ACC) snapped a four-game losing streak and knocked off UCLA (7-5) on Saturday as part of the CBS Sports Classic, 74-64. The Tar Heels sank six three-pointers and overcame a 17-turnover day to get the win.
In the first half, North Carolina held a 15-13 lead at the under-12 timeout, behind a balanced scoring effort with five different Tar Heels on the board to that point. First-year center Armando Bacot had posted five points, three of them at the charity stripe.
UNC was held to just one bucket in the next four-minute segment, and the game was tied at 17 with 7:34 to go before the break. But an ensuing 14-2 spurt, punctuated by a pair of Brandon Robinson three-pointers, gave North Carolina a handy lead that it would extend to 13 by halftime, 36-23.
In the first 20 minutes, Robinson and Bacot each had a game-high nine points, while junior forward Garrison Brooks added eight. The Tar Heels looked much-improved on the offensive end, sinking four three-pointers on 10 attempts and collecting assists on seven of their 14 made baskets.
But North Carolina promptly began the second half with a four-minute, 38-second scoring drought, allowing the Bruins to score 12 unanswered points and slice the deficit to one. Seven combined points from Bacot and fellow first-year Anthony Harris helped stretch the lead back out to 45-38 at the 11:32 mark.
Though the offensive struggle continued – with 6:56 to play, the teams had combined for 34 turnovers – UNC was able to hold serve with a 51-43 advantage. That was before Harris sank back-to-back triples on consecutive possessions; with less than six minutes to play, the UNC lead was stretched to 12.
From there, North Carolina wasn't threatened again and left Las Vegas with a much-needed victory.
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels got a balanced scoring effort on Saturday, with eight different players getting on the board. Five players posted double-digits: Bacot (15), Harris (14), first-year guard Jeremiah Francis (12), Brooks (12) and Robinson (12).
When was it decided?
The pair of Harris triples seemed to end this one relatively early, as the Bruins didn't come within single digits again and North Carolina was able to salt away its first win in more than three weeks.
Why does it matter?
After consecutive losses to Ohio State, Virginia, Wofford and Gonzaga, North Carolina got back on a winning track against a Bruin team that was also looking for a bounce-back win.
Without Cole Anthony, who is out 4-6 weeks after meniscus surgery, the Tar Heels got moments of brilliance from fellow rookies Harris and Francis, who combined for 26 points and five assists, in the backcourt. With a tough conference schedule looming, UNC hopes that the contributions of the young guards are a sign of greater things to come.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels won't play again until Dec. 30, when they'll face off against Yale in Chapel Hill for a final tune-up before the official start of ACC play.