After the team's last win also required some last-second heroics, a game-winning bucket on Tuesday from senior guard Andrew Platek gave the North Carolina men’s basketball team (7-4, 2-2 ACC) a narrow 67-65 road victory over the Miami Hurricanes (4-5, 0-4 ACC).
UNC started the game defensively weak and missing good offensive opportunities, with Miami's stout interior defense forcing North Carolina to beat them at the perimeter. It allowed the undermanned Hurricanes to mount a 7-0 run to take their first lead midway through the first half.
But free throws and good shooting from deep kept UNC in the game until a triple from junior forward Leaky Black helped the team regain a 27-25 lead before halftime. Aside from two ugly airballs, the Tar Heels made five shots from behind the arc compared to only four inside the paint.
First-year guard Kerwin Walton started the second half strong, knocking down his third 3-pointer of the night. He followed that up with a quick steal and score to turn a two-point deficit into a three-point lead. But no one else came out of the locker room in rhythm, and Miami went on its second 7-0 run of the game to gain a four-point lead, which would balloon to 10.
After some back-and-forth saw the Hurricanes hold onto a nine-point lead, Miami went on a four-minute field goal drought. The Tar Heels could've capitalized but continued to miss easy shots and commit costly turnovers.
First-year guard Caleb Love helped his team reduce the deficit to one after draining a 3-pointer — his first points of the game. After several near misses, it was Black that knocked down another huge 3-pointer to give North Carolina a two-point advantage with just over 1:30 left to play.
Both teams sank a pair of foul shots before Miami guard Isaiah Wong swished in a wild high-arching fadeaway to tie. In the dying seconds, Platek charged from the wing into traffic and nailed the layup to give the Tar Heels the lead. A half-court prayer from Miami fell short, and the Tar Heels claimed their victory, 67-65.
Who stood out?
Black recorded career highs in points and 3-pointers, while Walton also sank three shots from beyond the arc. Both players were shooting the ball confidently, which was much-needed as many of UNC’s post players were struggling to score.
While Platek made the biggest shot of the night, the other two players made the biggest overall impact.
When was it decided?
With over 12 minutes remaining, the Tar Heels found themselves in another double-digit deficit and needing a late run to pull out a victory. After some poor shooting and costly turnovers by UNC, the Tar Heels were finally able to set themselves up to win in the waning minutes.
With only seconds remaining, Black found Platek near the baseline, and the senior was able to put the ball into the basket to seal the North Carolina win.
Why does it matter?
UNC wanted to build off its win against Notre Dame, which broke a brief two-game losing skid. Tuesday’s victory gives the Tar Heels some confidence before they begin to face some of their tougher opponents. This win also brought their conference record back to .500 after starting 0-2.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill to face off against No. 19 Clemson on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.
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