Sans Garrison Brooks, sixth-seeded UNC (16-9, 10-6 ACC) breezed past eleventh-seeded Notre Dame (11-14, 7-11 ACC) in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, 101-59. The Tar Heels completely handled the Irish inside, winning the rebounding battle 54-31 and getting a combined 50 points from their three most prominent big men.
With Brooks, UNC's senior forward and leader, out due to injury, UNC leaned on forward Day'Ron Sharpe, who had six points in the opening minutes, and forward Armando Bacot, who added a layup inside. At the first media timeout the Tar Heels held an 11-7 lead.
By the 11:22 mark North Carolina had already swallowed up 16 rebounds, a whopping 12 of them on the offensive end, on the way to a 19-14 advantage. The combination of Bacot, Sharpe and Walker Kessler combined for 11 of those boards to go along with 14 points, bullying the Irish in the paint.
An R.J. Davis 3-pointer just before the under-8 timeout stretched the UNC advantage to 13. To that point, the Tar Heels were just 2-9 from long range, but the difference was in the front court, where they continued to dominate inside to the tune of nine points for Bacot and eight for Sharpe.
At the break, North Carolina led the Irish, 50-36, having posted one of its highest-scoring halves of the season on an efficient 48 percent from the floor. Three players — Bacot, Sharpe and guard Caleb Love — had already cracked double digits, while 19 of the Tar Heels' points had come from second-chance opportunities and 32 of their points had come in the paint.
Not much changed in the second half, with an 11-0 UNC spurt stretching the lead to 23 by the 12:00 mark. Notre Dame, meanwhile, went nearly dead offensively, allowing the Tar Heels to grab full control of the game — at one point going on an eviscerating 42-4 run — and never look back.
Who stood out?
Despite missing its senior leader, the UNC front court was as dominant as it's been all season. Bacot finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Kessler chipped in with 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks.