After grabbing a bounce-back victory on the road on Saturday, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (20-8, 12-5 ACC) returned home and pulled out a close one against Louisville (12-15, 6-11 ACC), winning 70-63.
Both teams came out of the gates trading blows, but the Tar Heels took a slim advantage heading into the first media timeout — up 10-7, after knocking down half of their early field goals.
After the break, both teams kept up the tempo, but Louisville was able to take the momentum, out-scoring North Carolina by seven over the next eight minutes to head into the third media timeout up four, 27-23, with 7:51 left to play in the first.
The Tar Heels responded well after losing their lead, knocking down five of their last 12 shots, but the Cardinals were able to keep it tight, sending the teams into the locker rooms even at 36.
After the half, the score remained steady for the first few minutes of the second, until a dunk by senior forward Leaky Black ignited the crowd and gave North Carolina a two-point lead with 15:22 to play. The Tar Heels were able to keep a slim lead for the next several minutes, going back-and-forth with Louisville on the offensive end, making it a tight one late, 58-57, with 7:15 to play.
The score remained tight until the end, but North Carolina was able to grab a three-point lead late after a flashy pass by graduate forward Brady Manek set up junior Armando Bacot for a loud slam dunk with 1:33 left on the clock.
The Tar Heels were able to finish the deal after the loud slam, shutting down the Cardinal offense to emerge with a seven-point victory, 70-63.
Who stood out?
Manek led the scoring effort for North Carolina, finishing with 17 points in 33 minutes of action, while also grabbing three rebounds and dishing two assists. Davis and sophomore guard Caleb Love finished close behind with 16 points apiece. Bacot was also able to finish in double figures with 12 points, while also notching his 21st double-double of the season thanks to 15 rebounds.
When was it decided?
After a close contest for the majority of the game, the Tar Heels were able to pull away with 37 seconds remaining after Love’s layup gave them a five-point advantage. North Carolina’s defense came through late after grabbing the two-possession lead, holding the Cardinals scoreless to push them to a seven-point victory.
Why does it matter?
Heading into the night with only four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, North Carolina was able to add yet another conference win to their resume and avoid another bad loss. After suffering a letdown against Pittsburgh, the Tar Heels were able to bounce back once again and pull out a tight one against a hungry Louisville team, as UNC looks to build another win streak heading into postseason play.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 26 as they travel to Raleigh to take on NC State. Tip-off for the matchup between the in-state rivals is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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