The North Carolina men’s basketball team (12-6, 4-3 ACC) defeated the Louisville Cardinals (2-16, 0-7 ACC), 80-59, Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals won the opening tip and senior El Ellis quickly drove to the hoop to convert the game’s opening basket. Moments later, senior forward Sydney Curry powered for a left-handed finish to give Louisville an early four-point lead.
Ellis continued to display his scoring prowess in the early goings. The Durham, N.C. native connected on a 3-pointer and swished six free throws to open up a 15-7 advantage for the Cardinals.
North Carolina would fight its way back behind the play of his All-ACC center. Senior Armando Bacot notched his first bucket of the game with a putback dunk. Moments later, he converted a second-consecutive slam for the Tar Heels, inching UNC within four points.
Bacot continued to find success inside the paint. At 7:50 mark in the first half, the senior center followed up his own miss to bank in an and-one shot. Shortly after, a pair of Bacot buckets helped North Carolina open up a three-point lead.
UNC’s defensive pressure would pick up late and hold Louisville scoreless over the final two minutes of the first half. Junior guard RJ Davis would cap off the strong defensive stretch by canning a pull-up 3-pointer to extend the Tar Heels’ lead to 37-26 at the half.
Louisville came out of the break looking to cut into its deficit. An Ellis and-one layup and Curry hook shot trimmed North Carolina’s advantage to six points.
But Puff Johnson would heat up from distance to nullify the Cardinals’ comeback efforts. The junior forward swished a pair of 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half to elevate the Tar Heels to its largest lead of the contest, 49-33.