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UNC men's basketball loses to No. 18 Alabama, 103-101, in four-overtime thriller

UNC junior guard Caleb Love (2) prepares to make a free throw during the exhibition game against JCSU at the Dean Smith Center on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.

The No. 1 North Carolina men's basketball team lost in four overtimes to No. 18 Alabama, 103-101, to round out their play in the Phil Knight Invitational on Sunday.

What happened?

A hard-fought 40 minutes resulted in the two teams tied, 77-77.

Senior forward Armando Bacot blocked a shot from Alabama's Brandon Miller to open the first overtime period, and junior wing Puff Johnson made two free throws to open scoring. On the other end, Johnson blocked a 3-point attempt from Alabama's Jahvon Quinerly.

Miller tied the game up from the free-throw line after being fouled under basket, and Quinerly drained a jump hook to put Alabama ahead, 81-79. UNC guard Caleb Love tied it back up with a drive inside, but the Tar Heels struggled to seal the game as Love committed an offensive foul to turn the ball over and Bacot bobbled a defensive rebound out of bounds.

With 30 seconds remaining in the period, Love poked the ball away from Quinerly and Johnson dived for the loose ball to give UNC the final possession. Love missed a step-back 3-pointer before the buzzer sounded, and the teams headed into a second overtime period tied at 81-81.

The Crimson Tide came out of the break strong with a dunk from center Charles Bediako and a lay-in from Quinerly, but Bacot answered with an easy dunk off the pick and roll. Bediako and Love exchanged baskets, but a floater from Jaden Bradley put Alabama up by four points with two minutes remaining in the period.

UNC refused to back down though, as Johnson made a crucial put-back basket and Love capitalized off a steal from fifth-year wing Leaky Black to tie the game at 89 points apiece. An offensive foul on Love gave Quinerly a chance to win the game with the clock winding down, but Nance blocked him to force triple overtime.

Nance connected with Love for the first points of the period, and then junior guard RJ Davis blew by his defender to go up, 93-89. After Love drew a charge, Nance scored inside to round out a six-point run from North Carolina. A 3-pointer from Miller put the Crimson Tide within two points, and, with 28 seconds left in the period, Quinerly was fouled by Davis and tied the game up from the line.

Neither team could find the game-winner, sending the game to an improbable fourth overtime. Bradley drove inside for the first basket of the period, and Love tied the game up at 98-98 after being fouled going for a rebound.

A Bediako put-back gave Alabama its 100th point, but Black answered with a three off the dribble to retake the lead. With 24 seconds left, Quinerly found Bediako at the rim to make the score 102-101 in favor of the Crimson Tide.

Who stood out? 

Caleb Love scored a career-high 34 points on 13-36 shooting, while Davis, Bacot, Black and Johnson also contributed double-digit scoring performances. Johnson also made several critical plays on both ends for the Tar Heels, likely earning himself more playing time going forward.

Alabama's Mark Sears led the Crimson Tide with 24 points, 21 of which came from the three-ball. Quinerly also had an impressive showing with 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Bediako tallied a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

When was it decided?

UNC and Alabama traded the ball back and forth in the closing minute as the two exhausted teams committed sloppy turnovers.

With nine seconds remaining, a goaltending call on Bediako was overturned to an inadvertent whistle, returning possession to Alabama. UNC first-year guard Seth Trimble forced a turnover on the inbounds to return the ball to the Tar Heels, but Nance turned the ball back over with an errant pass on the inbounds and UNC was forced to foul.

Bradley sunk one of two free throws to go up, 103-101, and Davis missed a half-court shot to end the game.

Why does it matter?

This could have been anyone's game, but UNC leaves the Phil Knight Invitational disappointed after losing back-to-back games against lesser-ranked opponents. The Tar Heels, who certainly will not be ranked No. 1 come Monday, will look to rebound when they hit the road Wednesday to play No. 11 Indiana, another formidable opponent.

When do they play next?

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On Wednesday, the Tar Heels will head up to Bloomington to face No. 11 Indiana as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The late game will tip off at 9:15 p.m.


@dthsports |

Lucas Thomae

Lucas Thomae is the 2023-24 sports managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as an assistant sports editor and summer editor. Lucas is a senior pursuing a major in journalism and media with a minor in data science.