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Thursday May 26th

UNC men's basketball tops Virginia Tech 78-68 to improve to 10-0 at home this season

Junior forward Armando Bacot (5) puts the ball up at the game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 24, 2022 at the Smith Center. UNC won 78-68.
Buy Photos Junior forward Armando Bacot (5) puts the ball up at the game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 24, 2022 at the Smith Center. UNC won 78-68.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (13-6, 5-3 ACC) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies (10-9, 2-6 ACC) 78-68 on Monday night, advancing the team’s home’s record to 10-0.

What happened?

The beginning of the game for North Carolina’s offense was all junior forward Armando Bacot. He scored the first basket of the game off an assist from graduate forward Brady Manek, and then converted an offensive rebound into two points the next trip down. Highlighted by a post hook and lob finish off a pass from sophomore guard RJ Davis, Bacot made his first six shots and accounted for 12 of UNC’s first 14 points. He recorded a double-double in the first half, recording 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Not long after, senior forward Leaky Black knocked down a wide-open three-pointer to give UNC a 17-6 lead with 13:18 to go in the half. From there, however, the Hokies began to fight back.

Virginia Tech outscored the Tar Heels 15-2, even taking the lead, before Manek made a three-pointer to briefly halt the run. 

Later in the half, a few other UNC players began to come alive. Sophomore guard Caleb Love knocked down a pair of three-pointers as well as a technical free throw to help UNC take a 33-30 lead.

Davis closed the half for UNC with a three-pointer of his own and, later, two free throws to give North Carolina a 37-33 halftime lead.

Virginia Tech opened the second half with a pair of quick makes to go up by one. A few possessions later, RJ Davis earned a three-point opportunity after making a layup through contact. He missed the free throw, but Love made a three-pointer on the next possession to go up 44-40.

Black later made another three to reach a season-high 10 points, giving UNC a seven-point advantage.

Both teams hit a wall offensively, with action not picking up until the last stretch of the half.

Manek came alive for UNC, making a three-pointer to extend the lead to 57-52. A minute and a half later, he put down an electrifying putback dunk to clean up a Love miss. With just under four minutes left, he knocked down another one from beyond the arc to put North Carolina ahead by double digits.

From there, North Carolina maintained the lead, converted on late free throws, and came out with the W.

Who stood out? 

Manek provided much of the offense for UNC down the stretch, with timely three-point shots and a putback dunk that livened the crowd. He finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Love also chipped in team-high 22 points – including three makes from downtown – to go along with five assists. This marked his fifth 20-point game of the season.

Bacot delivered a strong start to the game with an early 12 points. Though his production fell off scoring wise, he did finish with 14 points and a game-high 20 rebounds.This gave him his 10th straight double-double, and 14th of the season. 

When was it decided?

After Manek’s late spurt in the second half, UNC managed to come away with the win. Both teams struggled offensively to this point, so Manek’s production allowed the Tar Heels to pull away in an otherwise slow game.

Why does it matter?

The victory boosts UNC to a perfect 10-0 record at home, giving the team a lift with its not-as-impressive record away from Chapel Hill. Nonetheless, the ability to win at home is vital, and the remaining two games the team has in this homestand provides the Tar Heels with an opportunity to rise in the conference standings.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will continue its three-game homestand on Wednesday, as the team hosts Boston College at 7 p.m.  

@jerem11ah

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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