In the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, No. 3 Iowa defeated the No. 16 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 93-80, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Much like what transpired in last week’s Maui Invitational, the Tar Heels got off to a slow start, missing their first six shots of the game. Conversely, Iowa, a team that entered the contest averaging just under 100 points, made seven 3-pointers before the under-12 timeout and led 25-13.
Although UNC slowly chipped away, Iowa’s CJ Fredrick and Joe Wieskamp simply wouldn’t miss. They chipped in 16 points and 12 points, respectively, and each made four shots from deep before the half to make sure the Hawkeyes entered the intermission leading, 43-31.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels looked like a completely different team. They flipped the switch and raced out to an 8-3 run that featured three ferocious dunks before the Hawkeyes, now only leading by seven, called a timeout.
The following 10 minutes were a back-and-forth affair, and North Carolina momentarily took the lead, 68-67, with less than 10 minutes to play. However, Iowa rediscovered its shooting prowess on the next several possessions and went on a 14-0 run to lead, 81-68.
Once the Hawkeyes regained the lead, they did little to relinquish it while holding on for a 93-80 victory.
Who stood out?
With a 13-point, six-rebound statline in just 14 minutes off the bench, first-year big man Day’Ron Sharpe was the gas that fueled the Tar Heels. He jumped passing lanes, crashed the glass and even flashed shooting potential by knocking down a mid-range jumper. His energy was infectious, which allowed the game to remain competitive throughout the first half.
Despite being labeled as questionable with an ankle injury, senior forward Garrison Brooks was dependable, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Iowa was led offensively by redshirt senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who scored 24 points with seven 3-pointers.
As the AP preseason national player of the year, Iowa’s Luka Garza struggled to score early, but in the second half, his presence inside and on the glass made him every bit as advertised as he finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
When was it decided?
After trailing by as many as 16 points early in the first half, it seemed like the Tar Heels were ready to get run out of the gym. Once the second half began, the contest completely shifted, and with under 10 minutes to play, a series of lead changes left the game hanging in the balance.
However, Garza started to dominate inside, and Iowa quickly regained control. The late 14-0 run was enough to put the pressure on UNC, and the deficit was too big to overcome.
Why does it matter?
The loss gave the Tar Heels their second consecutive defeat, both against ranked teams.
For a team that features six first-year players in the rotation, each game gives this group invaluable experience for the ACC competition that lies ahead. During the Tar Heels’ run early in the second half, the unit established an offensive identity as a team that can play inside with the frontcourt and also knock down jumpers from outside, something they had been lacking early in the season.
When do they play next?
Following the postponement of the Dec. 12 matchup against Elon, UNC will have an extended hiatus before traveling to Cleveland to square off against Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday, Dec. 19. The Tar Heels will look to avenge their lost from last season in which the Buckeyes soundly defeated them, 74-49, in the Dean Smith Center.
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