After falling out of the top-25 rankings two weeks ago, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (5-2) topped the No. 24 Michigan Wolverines (4-3), 72-51 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday.
It wasn’t until the 17:07 mark in the first half that either team got on the board, but sophomore guard RJ Davis opened things up with a pull-up jumper from midrange. By the time the game reached the first media timeout, UNC led just 4-2.
Sophomore guard Caleb Love got the crowd going a bit with a rim-rattling fastbreak jam that gave North Carolina a 13-12 lead towards the midway point of the half. The dunk accounted for the team’s lone fastbreak points of the half despite the four steals it got to that point.
The Tar Heels did well on defense, employing active hands to cause deflections and steals on that end of the court. These
The entirety of the first half was slow for the Tar Heels who shot just 13-36 in the period. The Wolverines didn’t do much better, shooting just 11-30.
Love closed out the first half with a three to give UNC a two-point lead after 20 minutes, 29-27.
Bacot got it going early for UNC in the second half, scoring on back-to-back possessions, including an and-1 play that sent Michigan forward Hunter Dickinson to the bench with his fourth foul of the game.
Senior forward Leaky Black gave UNC another and-1 opportunity moments later to put the team up by six, as the Dean Dome crowd erupted while watching the ball finally drop after rolling around the rim.
The team went on a 12-4 run after Bacot’s first points of the half, and simply took off from there.
Sophomore forward Dawson Garcia began creating some offense for the team, going on a personal 5-0 run and giving the Tar Heels their first double-digit lead of the night to make the score 46-35.
UNC continued to get in a groove offensively and the Wolverines had no answer.
The lead continued to grow, with a Love three here and a Bacot dunk there, and UNC came out on top 72-51.
Who stood out?
Love and transfer sophomore forward Dawson Garcia delivered strong performances for North Carolina, hitting timely shots and giving the team much-needed momentum. Love delivered a pair of big dunks in the game that brought the crowd into the game, while Garcia provided a few scoring outbursts that extended the team’s lead, especially in the second half.
Love finished the game with 22 points and three steals, while Garcia added 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
When was it decided?
The game was decided early in the second half, with UNC going on a quick 12-4 run before the first media timeout. And-1 plays from Bacot and Black spearheaded the run, and Bacot’s score put Dickinson on the bench with four fouls. Up eight at this point, North Carolina kept its distance from the Wolverines and continued to grow its lead in the second half.
Why does it matter?
After falling out of the top-25 early in the season, a win against No. 24 Michigan bodes well for the team’s hopes to re-enter the rankings. Defeating a ranked team in a primetime game gives the team a marquee win early and provides a good gauge on where it stands before conference play.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will travel to Atlanta for its first conference game against Georgia Tech on Sunday, Dec. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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