The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

UNC men's basketball completes season sweep of N.C. State with 84-74 road victory

Graduate forward Brady Manek (45) defends against NC State's Jericole Hellems (4) in the first half of the game against NC State game at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on Feb. 26, 2022.
Buy Photos Graduate forward Brady Manek (45) defends against NC State's Jericole Hellems (4) in the first half of the game against NC State game at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on Feb. 26, 2022.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (21-8, 13-5 ACC) traveled to Raleigh on Saturday for a rematch against its rival, N.C. State (11-18, 4-14 ACC), where it dominated the Wolfpack once again with a score of 84-74.

What happened?

Similar to the team’s first matchup in January, UNC took control early on, quickly building a double-digit lead on the Wolfpack. It was junior forward Armando Bacot initially making his mark in the game, scoring the first six points for the Tar Heels. N.C. State could not match UNC on the other end, struggling to hit shots as North Carolina piled up points.

Just under the 16-minute mark, an emphatic tomahawk dunk from senior forward Leaky Black made the score 13-3.

The team showed no signs of slowing down after the initial 10-point lead, as graduate forward Brady Manek added on a three-pointer and layup followed soon after by a layup from sophomore guard RJ Davis to make the score 20-3 before the next Wolfpack score.

N.C. State cut into the lead at times, but the Tar Heels managed to expand it soon after. After the lead was cut to 26-15, Manek quickly answered with a layup on the other end.

Twenty of UNC’s first 33 points came in the paint after a Davis floater.

A layup from N.C. State’s Casey Morsell cut the lead down to single digits, 36-27, but Manek followed that up with a three-pointer on the ensuing play. 

Late in the half, sophomore guard Caleb Love – who finished the half with nine points – attempted to put down a dunk over Ebenezer Dowuona of the Wolfpack, but was fouled and missed. His two free throws gave UNC a 46-29 halftime lead.

After the first 20 minutes, North Carolina held a shooting percentage of 60 percent compared to N.C. State’s 26 percent. Black left the game at the 4:31 mark due to a hyperextended knee.

Though it was a slower start to the second half, Manek found Bacot inside for the and-1 layup at the 16:49 mark to bring the lead to 51-35. The next play, on the other end, Bacot blocked a shot on N.C. State’s Terquavion Smith, leading to a dunk from sophomore guard Puff Johnson – who started the second half in place of the injured Black – on the fast break.

Later in the half, another bucket from Bacot gave the Tar Heels a 57-35, giving them their largest lead at that point 22.

From there, the team stayed in complete control, winning 84-74.

Who stood out? 

Like most games this season, Bacot was the driving force for the Tar Heels on both ends of the floor. He finished the game with 28 points, dunking on almost every chance he had in the paint. He also rounded out his statline with 18 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Manek contributed 16 points, six rebounds and five assists to the win. He stepped up to make timely shots any time N.C. State looked to cut into the lead, something he has excelled with this season.

Johnson filled in well for the injured Black in the second half, finishing the game with career-high 16 points. 

When was it decided?

N.C. State never led at any point on Saturday, as UNC ran away with it early on. After taking the first double-digit lead, the Wolfpack cut it to single digits just once in the first half.

The UNC lead grew as high as 25 points, and the team eventually held on to win by 10.

Why does it matter?

With just two games left in the regular season for North Carolina, postseason play is approaching quickly. The team is widely projected as a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament and is currently in the top-four in the ACC. Time remains for the team to close out the season strong and give itself a shot at the Big Dance, though its regular season finale comes against No. 7 Duke, a team that defeated UNC 87-67 at home just weeks ago.

How the Tar Heels perform in the next two games will play a large part in dictating how long their season lasts.

When do they play next?

North Carolina returns home for its last home game of the season, where it will face the Syracuse Orange on Monday at 7 p.m.

@jerem11ah

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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