There were boos raining from stands. Ice got tossed on the court. A coach slammed his hand onto the scorer's table.
The closing minutes of the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s 90-83 victory against Louisville were a mess. But in the end, the Tar Heels came out of the chaos with a victory, finally breaking their month-long road drought thanks to their resilience and the play of their upperclassmen.
“It was a crazy atmosphere,” junior forward Armando Bacot said. “It was probably one of the most intense games I’ve ever played in, especially towards the end.”
UNC came out sizzling in the second half, going on an early 9-0 run. It seemed like the game was trending towards a comfortable victory for UNC, until a 3-point barrage from Louisville ensued.
In just under seven minutes of play, the Cardinals drained seven triples to turn a 48-39 UNC lead into a two-point Louisville advantage. The game was about to get away from UNC, until the stabilizing force of forward Brady Manek kept the team in it.
The graduate transfer scored four consecutive baskets after trailing for the first time in the second half after the sixth three-point shot during Louisville’s scoring frenzy. He knocked down a beyond-the-arch shot of his own, got open in the paint for a dunk and got two jumpers to fall.
He helped the team get back up after taking a massive punch.
“We are tough,” Manek said. “Everyone calls us soft. Everyone says on the road, we can’t win.”
The Tar Heels battled their way back and seemed to have sealed the game away after a 3-pointer from sophomore guard RJ Davis and a huge and-one layup from Bacot. All sophomore point guard Caleb Love had to do was dribble the clock down and draw a foul.