NEW YORK — Armando Bacot came out of the locker room hot.
Within the first thirty seconds of the second half, the graduate center ran down the court, caught a pass from Elliot Cadeau and laid the ball up for an and-one.
It was a dream start for UNC, who had just cut its deficit to three with the chance to make it just two. Bacot took the free throw line, set up his shot, and released it into the air — only to see it clatter off the side of the rim moments later.
This was the theme of the night in No. 9 UNC’s 87-76 loss to No. 5 UConn: missed opportunities. The Tar Heels had multiple chances to claw their way back in the second half — cutting UConn's lead to single digits on three separate occasions — but came up short in all instances.
“At the end of the day we just gotta knock down those shots,” Bacot said. “I missed a bunch of shots.”
In the second half, UConn seemingly couldn't miss from beyond the arc, draining four consecutive 3-pointers and a layup to go up by 13 — something the UNC defense had no answer for.
“You look in the first half they were 4-16 [from the perimeter] and to come out and hit four in a row — I think we were really trying to just protect the paint to a fault and we didn't do a good job with switching out aggressive and running them off the line,” Bacot said. “So, I mean, credit to them for knocking down those shots.”
But just like they had done in the first half, the Tar Heels started to slowly creep back into the game.