In life, there’s good and bad, and on Wednesday night, the same could be said about the North Carolina men’s basketball team in its 58-47 victory over Boston College in Chapel Hill.
The good for the Tar Heels?
They won, and avoided a loss that could have dampened their NCAA Tournament hopes.
The other good?
North Carolina limited the Eagles to 16 points in the second half — the lowest point total in a half for a UNC opponent since 2016, when the Tar Heels limited Northern Iowa to only 16 second-half points.
“As ugly as (this game) was, in the second half we held them to 16 points,” senior wing Leaky Black said. “Holding an ACC team to 16 points is winning basketball if you ask me.”
The way the Tar Heels played between the lines in the victory is where the bad lies.
For the first time in program history, the Tar Heels won a game after shooting below 30 percent from the field. UNC went 16-for-55 from the field, making eight field goals in both the first and second half.
The last time that UNC shot that low of a percentage and still won? Over 65 years ago, when the eventual national champions shot 30.3 percent against William & Mary in 1957.
“Shots weren’t falling,” sophomore guard Caleb Love said. “It’s kind of weird because that usually happens on the road, it’s not supposed to happen at home, but it happened, and we have to put this game behind us.”
On top of the team’s shooting struggles, junior forward Armando Bacot had struggles of his own. After registering just six points to go along with his 18 rebounds, his streak of 10 consecutive double-doubles came to an end due to a rare 1-10 shooting performance.
The Boston College trio of James Karnik, T.J Bickerstaff and Quinten Post had Bacot searching for answers all night long. Minutes after the game had ended, after most everyone had left the building, Bacot was still on the court putting up shots and looking to figure out what had just occurred.
“Teams have to (guard Armando closely) knowing what he’s done this whole season,” Love said. “He knows that he has to make some of the layups he’s missed these past few games.”
So, how did UNC find some good out of their all-time shooting struggles and score points to finish the game on top?
The free throw line.
Even when the easiest of shots weren’t falling, North Carolina consistently attacked the rim and drew fouls. This aggression from the Tar Heels allowed them to get a free chance at scoring points in front of what became a quiet Dean Smith Center whenever UNC was at the line.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” head coach Hubert Davis said. “There’s one thing I’m really encouraged about from the offensive end. This is three games in a row that we’ve got to the free throw line, we shot 20-of-25 from the free throw line.”
UNC may have had a taste of both good and bad on Wednesday night, but after another much-needed win, the only taste that remains is that of finishing the job and moving in the right direction ahead of its matchup against N.C. State on Saturday.
“Honestly, there’s going to be some ugly games, obviously, we know we’ve got to get better moving forward, but I’m just glad we got the win,” Black said.
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