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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's basketball falls short in road game vs. Notre Dame, losing 78-73

Junior forward Armando Bacot (5) dunks the ball at the game against Elon on Dec. 11, 2021. The Tar Heels won 80-63.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (10-4, 2-1 ACC) lost Wednesday night 78-73 on the road against Notre Dame (8-5, 2-1 ACC).

What happened?

Graduate forward Brady Manek hit a jumper to get UNC on the board first. The ACC foes then traded buckets before a near two-minute scoring drought from both sides. Blake Wesley of Notre Dame broke the scoring drought, tying the game back up. A back-and-forth battle for the lead went on before junior center Armando Bacot converted an and-1 to go up three on Notre Dame. However, Notre Dame tied the game right back up with a 3-pointer. 

Sophomore guard RJ Davis hit two straight buckets, but with both of those scores, Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski hit consecutive 3-pointers to extend the Fighting Irish’s lead. Davis then scored again, with two points from the free throw line before Notre Dame went on a 8-0 run to make their lead. Senior forward Leaky Black ended the scoring run by the Irish, converting a lay-up, but Notre Dame then scored four straight points. Davis then hit a 3-pointer and then a minute and half ticked off the clock before UNC scored again. 

Notre Dame retaliated with a 3-pointer nearly a minute later, extending their lead again. Bacot then got a pair of scores before Notre Dame scored again. UNC and Notre Dame then traded points before the Irish hit their seventh 3-pointer of the first half. Bacot hit a shot on the other end and on Notre Dame’s missed shot a possession later, grabbed his 10th rebound for his 10th double-double of the year. After a miss by the Irish, Davis hit a running layup, giving him 11 points in the first half, and making the score at the half 39-35 for the Irish.

Straight out of the gate in the second half, Notre Dame did what it did seemingly the entire first half -- hit 3-pointer.s Sophomore guard Caleb Love hit a 3-pointer of his own, though. The teams traded buckets before Notre Dame busted the lead open again with four points. Notre Dame then went on an 8-2 run, including two 3-pointers in thirty seconds, making its lead 13 points. 

Black stopped the run, commencing a UNC 8-0 run. Notre Dame put an end to this with a 3-pointer after a near-two-minute drought by both teams. Davis got fouled a minute later, hitting both free throws, and then Manek hit a three on UNC’s next possession to bring them within five. Notre Dame responded with an and-q before Love hit a 3-pointer, making the lead five points yet again. After another Notre Dame jumper later , UNC came back with two straight dunks by Bacot and Manek to make it a three-point lead. Love hit a lay-up after a scoreless two minutes, and the Tar Heels found themselves within a point. 

Bacot gave the Tar Heels the lead 50 seconds later with a layup to put himself over 20 points for the game. Laszewski hit a 3-pointer though to reclaim the lead for the Irish and then hit another deep shot a minute later to put Notre Dame up five. Davis brought the lead back down to two with a 3-pointer of his own. With 44 seconds left on the clock, Bacot got baited into the air on a 3-point shot by Hubb and fouled him, sending him to the line for three shots, two of three he hit, putting the Irish up four. 

Black couldn’t make the layup to pull UNC within two and Notre Dame capitalized after getting intentionally fouled, making both free throws and going up six with 26 seconds left. UNC missed two straight threes, but on the third attempt by Davis, making it a three-point game. Notre Dame made both their free throws and UNC missed their last shot, sealing the Notre Dame win.

Who stood out?

Bacot stood out accumulating 19 points and 15 rebounds, including getting a double-double in just the first half. Notre Dame’s Laszewski also stood out, hitting 3-pointers, and extending the Irish lead just when it seemed like UNC was coming back.

When was it decided?

The game was decided after Black missed a layup with 32 seconds to go that would’ve pulled UNC within two points of the Irish. The nail in the coffin was set when Notre Dame hit both of their free throws, putting them up six points and making the game out of reach.

Why does it matter?

The loss matters because it would’ve been UNC’s fourth straight road win to start the season, something they haven’t done since the 2007-08 season. The loss also shows the inconsistent play that has plagued the Tar Heels all year, from getting dominated by Tennessee, to getting blown out by Kentucky, to losing a winnable game tonight.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill and the Dean Smith Center on Saturday, Jan. 8 for an afternoon matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.


@DTHSports |

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