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UNC men's basketball returns to ACC play with 91-65 demolition of Boston College

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Graduate transfer forward Brady Manek (45) steals the ball at the game against Appalachian State on Dec 21, 2021 at the Dean E. Smith Center. UNC won 70-50.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (10-3, 2-0 ACC) defeated Boston College (6-6, 1-1 ACC) on Sunday, 91-65, giving the Tar Heels a win in their second ACC match of the season.

What happened?

The game had a sluggish start — with UNC beginning the game on six straight misses from the floor. Aside from the early offensive struggles, perhaps the most notable part of the game’s first few minutes was transfer forward Dawson Garcia’s head injury, exiting for the remainder of the game.

Despite the initial slow start on offense, the Tar Heel defense was on point, with tough man to man coverage and improved help on the dribble drive compared to recent games.

At the five-minute mark the UNC defense really turned the heat up, forcing a turnover which redshirt sophomore guard Anthony Harris converted into a breakaway lay-in to start the game back up after the first media timeout.

By the seven-minute mark, UNC’s focus on fundamental defense and patience on offense began to shine through. The transition offense and secondary breaks for the Tar Heels were falling, opening up shooters like sophomore guards Kerwin Walton and RJ Davis and graduate transfer big man Brady Manek who were able to convert from the 3-point line. After Manek sank back-to-back threes at eight minute mark, the Tar Heels were shooting 45 percent from behind the arc.

Into the last 10 minutes of the first half, the patience and maturity of Davis and Love continued to shine through, as the Tar Heels retained a tight control on the pacing of the game. The ball movement they initiated created a balanced attack by UNC’s offense, as they ended the first half with three players in double figures.

On the other hand, Boston College continued to struggle to connect. In the first half they were 13.8 percent from the field, and 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. The Eagles defense was out of sorts as well, giving up multiple uncontested shots as the Tar Heels stretched their lead to 29 points at the half.

Love got things started for North Carolina in the second half, going three-for-three behind the arc within five UNC possessions.

While the Eagles got things clicking on the offensive side in the second half, they couldn’t overcome their 29-point deficit in the first-half. Despite outsourcing the UNC in the second half, the Eagles still came up short, falling 91-65.

Who stood out? 

Coming into today’s matchup in Chesnut Hill, a huge storyline was the battle on the board between Bacot and Boston College’s James Karnik. The front court duo of Manek and Bacot was instrumental in building an early lead over the Eagles and ultimately securing the win in today’s game. In the first half alone, they combined for 23 points and 13 rebounds. 

With the help of Manek’s presence behind the arc, the Heels were able to alleviate the defensive pressure the Eagles were placing on Bacot. Despite often being double or triple-teamed, Bacot ended the game with his ninth double-double on the season and his fourth in a row, with 18 points on a 66.67 percent field goal percentage, while Manek scored 17 points.

When was it decided?

By halftime, the ultimate fate of this game was clear. Halfway through the second half, UNC went on a 22-5 run, and eventually extended their lead to a then game-high 30 points.

UNC’s control of the tempo was key to building and sustaining this early lead, as the Tar Heels proved to be much more patient on offense than the Eagles. North Carolina was much more impressive in their ball movement, as the dribble drive and kick out option led to 33 points from behind the arc. By comparison, Boston College’s offense was marked by lots of rushed shots, and ultimately, an abysmal 31.3 percent shooting mark to the Tar Heels' 52.5 percent.

Why does it matter?

Today’s win over Boston College gives the Tar Heels a 2-0 undefeated start to ACC play. After the postponed game against Virginia Tech last Wednesday, this win gives the Tar Heels some much-needed momentum going into the bulk of their season. 

While North Carolina looked stronger for the majority of today’s game, they need to be able to come out to a stronger start in future matchups. North Carolina’s patience on offense and improved help on defense must also continue as they face later, tougher ACC competition.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be on the road this coming week, taking on Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

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@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com


Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.