The North Carolina men’s basketball team (7-2, 1-0 ACC) defeated in-state opponent Elon (2-8) this Saturday night at home in the Dean Smith Center, 80-63.
After trading baskets for the first few minutes, a steal and subsequent dunk by sophomore Caleb Love kicked off a 7-0 run to give the Tar Heels the 13-10 lead through six minutes. The Phoenix were not shaken, however, as a few strong plays on offense gave them the 18-17 lead heading into the under-12 timeout.
Coming out of the break, the UNC offense nearly doubled its shooting percentage while the Tar Heels’ defense registered four steals and forced seven turnovers that led to 13 fast break points in the first half. Heading into halftime, the Tar Heels led by eight, 37-29.
Junior Armando Bacot started the second half strong with a steal, two free throws and a dunk for his first points of the game. On the defensive end, UNC managed to hold Elon to just 10 points scored in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
The Tar Heels also forced the Phoenix into some foul trouble with three players competing with three or more fouls, including a flagrant one. Despite some back-and-forth play, the Tar Heels coasted the rest of the way en route to the 80-63 win.
Who stood out?
Love and sophomore forward Dawson Garcia led the team in scoring with 22 points each, while senior Leaky Black led the team in rebounds with eight. After a slow first half, Bacot improved his play in the second half to finish the game with nine points and seven rebounds.
The Phoenix were paced by guards Hunter McIntosh and Darius Burford, who finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
When was it decided?
After regaining the lead midway through the first half, UNC stayed in control for the remainder of the game. With just under a minute to go, head coach Hubert Davis emptied the bench, allowing junior Duwe Farris to score his first career field goal.
Why does it matter?
Despite the relatively small Smith Center crowd, the team played with energy building confidence before facing more formidable opponents later in the season.
Although the Tar Heels ended up shooting only 39 percent from the field, the team was able to get back to basics focusing on fixing schematic flaws and cleaning up some of the sloppiness from the start of the game.
The game marked the 25th matchup between the two teams. The Tar Heels now lead the series 21-4.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will be back at home on Tuesday night where they will take on the Furman Paladins. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m.
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