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Heel Tough Blog: Louisville Recap

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

It wasn’t easy last night, but Carolina earned a 70-63 win over Louisville, 48 hours after winning at Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels looked like a tired team but fought as hard as they have all season long, to get past the scrappy bunch from Louisville. Brady Manek led the team with 17 points, on 6-12 shooting, as he poured in three triples in the first half. Caleb Love played the entire game, and despite shooting just 1-7 from behind the arc, made the plays he needed to make to lead Carolina to the win. Armando Bacot recorded his 21st double-double on the season, as he scored 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and grabbed 15 rebounds. For the game, UNC shot 49% from the field, despite going just 7-25 from deep. Meanwhile, they held Louisville to 45% shooting, and 25% from behind the three-point line.

The game was tied at 60 in the final minutes, and with Carolina’s season on the line, Carolina finished the game the way you wanted them to. That 10-3 close to the game, was the most maturity this team has shown maybe all season long, and that’s with them running on fumes with a tight rotation.

Last night was the 20th win for Hubert Davis, more than both Dean Smith and Roy Williams in their first seasons on the job in Chapel Hill. Ever since the loss to Pitt last week, we’ve seen the competitive fire from Davis, who is trying to guide this up and down team into the NCAA Tournament, last night they took one step closer to doing just that:

  1. Love/Davis: It wasn’t the prettiest performances for either Caleb Love or R.J. Davis, but they made the plays they needed to make to win the game. Love scored 16 points, on 6-14 shooting, and had 7 turnovers. Davis also scored 16 points, on 5-11 shooting. The big key? With the ball in their hands in the final minutes, they combined to go 7-7 from the foul line, to effectively put the game away.

  2. Defense: In the first half, Louisville scored 36 points, and was getting quality looks at the basket. That changed in the second half, as they only scored 27 points. Furthermore, Carolina only put the Cardinals on the foul line, 5 times, as they did a great job playing defense without fouling. The effort was where you wanted it to be following Saturday’s win at VT.

  3. Turnovers: Love turned it over 7 times individually, as the team committed 13 of them as a whole. Louisville converted those into 14 points. Conversely, UNC forced 13 Louisville turnovers, and also scored 14 points off their miscues, as they didn’t let the turnovers derail them.

  4. Rotation: Puff Johnson played 12 minutes off the bench, as Davis only played 8 players again. All 5 starters played at least 32 minutes, with Caleb Love playing the entire game, and Armando Bacot playing 39. It’s hard to envision UNC playing deep into March playing only 7-8 guys, but this is what Davis thinks is best for the team.

Up Next: Carolina is off for the next 5 days, as they won’t play again until Saturday at NC State. That game will start at 2 PM on ESPN.

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