The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

UNC men's basketball returns to hot scoring form in 100-80 win over NC State

Sophomore guard Caleb Love (2) drives the ball to the basket at the game against NC State at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Jan. 29, 2022. UNC won 100-80.
Buy Photos Sophomore guard Caleb Love (2) drives the ball to the basket at the game against NC State at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Jan. 29, 2022. UNC won 100-80.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (15-6, 7-3ACC ) dominated rival North Carolina State (10-11, 3-8 ACC) 100-80 on Coach Roy Williams Day in a game that featured the 1982 National Championship team reunion. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels fired on all cylinders offensively and defensively in the first five minutes of the game. On offense, UNC hit six of its first seven field-goal attempts and four of its first four 3-point attempts while recording three blocks and two steals. Sophomore guard Caleb Love capped the Tar Heels’ dominant start by forcing an NC State timeout with an and-1 layup to put his team ahead 17-7. 

After the timeout, UNC maintained, and at times, extended its lead throughout the first half thanks to continued strong shooting and rim protection, as junior center Armando Bacot blocked his third and fourth shots of the game. Graduate forward Brady Manek connected on one of his four made 3-pointers to put the Tar Heels up 14 and force another Wolfpack timeout. 

The Tar Heels later delivered a 14-3 two-minute scoring spree fueled by pin-point shooting from beyond the arc to balloon their lead to 40-19. UNC took a 56-31 lead into the halftime break after finishing the last five minutes of the first half on a 16-5 run, while holding the Wolfpack to 2-11 shooting from the field. 

UNC continued to dominate after the halftime break. Within the first minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels made an 11-3 run to give themselves a commanding 70-37 lead. 

Midway through the second half, NC State’s offense heated up, as the Wolfpack connected on five of eight field goals. The Tar Heels’ offense, however, also continued to score at an impressive clip, extending their lead to over 30 points at certain times during NC State’s hot-shooting streak. 

After dominating and never trailing at any point during the game, head coach Hubert Davis put non-rotation players such as D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles into the game, and closed off the game with 100-80 rout of the Wolfpack.  

Who stood out?

After strong scoring performances in the Tar Heels’ first two games of the week, Love concluded a week of high-scoring games with 21 points on 6-16 shooting against the Wolfpack. Love registered a balanced game, scoring 11 points in the first half and 10 in the second, while shooting an impressive four of six from three-point range and getting to the free-throw line. Love also contributed as a distributor by penetrating the NC State defense and hitting open shooters on the perimeter on his way to a five-assist performance. 

On defense, Love also made his presence felt with two steals and aggressive on-ball defense. 

When was it decided?

If NC State had any chance of winning the game after digging itself into a deep halftime deficit, they needed a strong performance to start the second half. But both teams picked up right where they left off at the beginning of the second half, as UNC quickly went on an 11-3 run to make the score 70-37. Any chance of the Tar Heels letting NC State back into the game were likely nixed after taking the commanding 70-37 lead early in the second half. 

Why does it matter?

In recent past seasons, the Tar Heels’ lack of three-point shooting hurt them, especially against bigger teams that could congest driving lanes to the paint. UNC flashed its ability to hit shots from deep at an efficient clip against the Wolfpack, hitting 10-15 3-point attempts in the first half and 5-12 in the second.  

And although NC State boasts a well-below .500 record and sits near the bottom of the ACC standings, the win was one UNC’s most dominant performances this season. The Tar Heels seem as if they’re playing some of their best basketball heading into a critically important week with games on the road against Louisville and at home against Duke. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will play another conference opponent on Tuesday, Feb. 1 when they tip-off against the Louisville Cardinals at 8 p.m.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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