For much of Friday night, it was a battle of the Calebs.
After trading shots to open the game, UNC junior guard Caleb Love gathered a tip-out with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half. He put the ball on the floor and immediately sized up Iowa State’s Caleb Grill.
Crossing over to his right, Love drove to the rim, stopped just before reaching the paint, and banked in a floater over Grill. Love turned and ran down the court, but not before reaching his hand down to motion that Grill was too small.
He might’ve celebrated a bit too soon.
In UNC’s matchup against Iowa State in the Phil Knight Invitational semifinal, Grill recorded a career-high 31 points off of seven three-pointers. His explosive performance — coupled with three late turnovers by senior forward Armando Bacot — clinched a 70-65 win for the Cyclones and handed the top-ranked Tar Heels their first loss of the season.
“(Grill) is somebody percentage-wise, (who) wasn’t shooting the ball well coming into the game,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. “But it really doesn’t matter — he was feeling it today.”
It wasn’t just Grill’s volume that proved deadly — it was the opportune timing in which the senior decided to strike.
Down by seven points with under four minutes to go, Grill went to work. With a three-pointer in the corner, over the outstretched arms of Love, he brought the Cyclones within four points.
“For Iowa State to come back, they needed to make plays and they did,” Davis said. “Caleb Grill’s three, he was hot the entire game.”