In the second all-time meeting between UNC (13-7, 7-5 ACC) and Northeastern (9-8, 8-2 CAA) men's basketball teams, the Tar Heels crushed the Huskies 82-62 on Wednesday in Chapel Hill. As a last-minute addition to the schedule after Tuesday’s game against Virginia Tech was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, UNC was able to take advantage of the non-conference opponent, claiming a bounce-back win at home.
The Tar Heels broke the ice with a quick four points from sophomore big Armando Bacot. Northeastern’s Tyson Walker quickly proved to be a problem factor, though, as the sophomore guard notched seven consecutive points.
With a series of missed shots from both teams, the Tar Heels regained the lead (16-13) off a jumper from first-year big Day’Ron Sharpe that was followed quickly by two 3-pointers from first-year and senior guards Kerwin Walton and Andrew Platek, respectively. Despite the low scoring effort well into the first period, the Tar Heels upheld the lead by forcing the Huskies to shoot from behind the arc and turning missed Husky 3-pointers into points in the paint.
With just under seven minutes left in the opening half, Walker had 16 of Northeastern’s 18 points, proving to be the sole offensive weapon for the Huskies. In the closing five minutes, Walker continued to keep Northeastern in the game with another 3-point jumper and two free throws.
UNC, though, was able to maintain the lead heading into halftime by spreading the scoring across the roster: namely, a 3-point jumper from first-year big Walker Kessler, a layup from first-year guard Caleb Love, a slam dunk from Sharpe and six consecutive points from Platek. Despite the 41-30 lead at the half, the Tar Heels headed to the locker room needing to find a defensive answer for Walker.
The Tar Heels were able to stuff Walker in the second half, but three 3-pointers from Northeastern’s Coleman Stucke and Quirin Emanga kept the Huskies in the match, despite the Tar Heels continuing the barrage of points in the paint.
With just over ten minutes remaining, UNC increased its lead to 63-45 with two slam dunks from Brooks and Kessler. Sharpe, as well as Kessler and Platek coming of the bench, continued their notable performances to keep UNC ahead until the Tar Heels finally came away with a 20-point victory.
Who stood out?
Walker was the star in the opening half, notching 21 of Northeastern’s 30 points in the first. This hot start fizzled later on, with Walker putting up only six points in the second half.
UNC was able to maintain its lead off of a 25-4 edge on points from the bench in the opening half. While Walker went cold, bench players continued to be the difference makers up until the final moments, with noteworthy performances from Platek and Kessler, who finished with nine and 10 points respectively. Love also finished with a career-high nine assists.
When was it decided?
Without Walker making shots, the Tar Heels made the Huskies pay with steady scoring across the roster. Brooks notched a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Sharpe and Walton put up 15 and 14 points each.
With just under two minutes to play and a clear 20-point advantage, the Tar Heels sat their starting lineup and called game.
Why does it matter?
After four straight away games, the Tar Heels were able to bounce back from a loss to No. 9 Virginia last week with this win in Chapel Hill. A non-conference opponent allowed UNC’s bench players some much-needed playing time, creating some special moments like Kessler’s first 3-pointer of his college career.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will return to conference play Saturday night in a 6 p.m. matchup against Louisville at home in the Dean E. Smith Center.
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