The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday May 28th

UNC men’s basketball unravels in second half in 77-69 loss at N.C. State

UNC graduate forward Leaky Black (1) defends an N.C. State basketball player at PNC Arena on Feb. 19, 2023 at the UNC mens basketball game against the N.C. State Wolfpack.
Buy Photos UNC graduate forward Leaky Black (1) defends an N.C. State basketball player at PNC Arena on Feb. 19, 2023 at the UNC mens basketball game against the N.C. State Wolfpack.

RALEIGH, N.C. — After allowing an explosive scoring spurt in the second half, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (16-11, 8-8 ACC) fell to No. 23 N.C. State (21-7, 11-6 ACC), 77-69, in Raleigh on Sunday afternoon.

What happened?

Both teams came out clicking and the Tar Heels drilled five of their first six shots to take an early 11-10 lead. UNC senior center Armando Bacot and N.C. State’s D.J. Burns Jr. were the focal points of the offenses, as each side looked to post up their star big men as much as possible. 

Following a brief cold stretch, N.C. State drilled two straight 3-pointers to regain its rhythm. Meanwhile, UNC’s offense went silent with only one field goal over a five-minute period as the team trailed 22-19 with 7:15 to play in the half.

Despite the hot starts, each side cooled off considerably for the remainder of the half. The Wolfpack looked to shoot early in the shot clock but converted on only 30 percent of their looks in the first 20 minutes. However, the Tar Heels turned the ball over eight times, which led to 12 N.C. State points and the team trailed 32-31 heading into the break. 

The two teams prioritized getting the ball early in the second half, as a back-and-forth series of made shots in the paint had the game tied at 42 with 13:35 to play. 

The Tar Heels regained the lead with two straight 3-pointers by graduate transfer Pete Nance and junior guard Caleb Love heading into the next media timeout. Another triple by junior guard RJ Davis gave UNC a 54-48 advantage — its largest lead of the night — with just over nine minutes to go, but a 7-0 Wolfpack run helped the team go ahead at the under-eight timeout.

The game was tied at 60 with the 6:02 remaining, but the Wolfpack went on another 7-0 to pull away. Burns and guard Jarkel Joiner led the charge during the stretch, as a Joiner triple in transition sent the PNC Arena crowd into a frenzy and forced UNC head coach Hubert Davis to call a timeout at the 4:44 mark.

N.C. State continued its run out of the timeout with another jumper from Joiner. UNC trimmed the deficit to six, but a hook shot from Burns and an alley-oop pass from Wolfpack guard Terquavion Smith to Joiner put the exclamation point in the Tar Heels' 77-69 defeat. 

Who stood out?

Bacot paced the Tar Heels' offense with 16 points and 14 rebounds to record his 66th career double-double. Love was also productive by contributing 20 points.

Joiner and Burns took over in the second half for the Wolfpack, finishing the game with 29 and 18 points, respectively.

When was it decided?

After a tightly contested opening half, both sides came out in the second looking to establish control. The Tar Heels' brief 3-point barrage seemed to help them dictate the tempo, but the Wolfpack's scoring spurt turned the tide once again.

When N.C. State went on its second scoring run of the second half, the Tar Heels found themselves in a hole they couldn't dig themselves out of. The Wolfpack made nine straight shots during the stretch, which was the deciding factor in building a sizeable lead in the closing minutes.

Why does it matter?

For a team that is currently projected to miss the NCAA Tournament according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi, the Tar Heels enter the final four games of the regular season still looking for their first Quad One win. The next chance to earn one will be next Saturday against Virginia

The defeat is also just the team’s second loss to the Wolfpack in its last 11 outings.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will head to South Bend, Ind. to face Notre Dame on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m.  


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