After the loss on Tuesday at home against Clemson, it was important for UNC to respond on the road, to maintain their lead in the ACC regular season race, and that’s exactly what happened, as they beat Miami 75-72, to improve to 19-5 (11-2) on the season. R.J Davis led the way with 25 points, connecting on 5-11 three-pointers, as he was one of four UNC starters to score in double figures. Elliot Cadeau added a career-high 19 points, along with 8 assists, as he put together arguably his most complete game as a Tar Heel. Armando Bacot posted his third straight double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, as he battled all day long with Norchad Omier on the interior. Lastly, Harrison Ingram scored 13 points, despite going 3-7 from the foul line, to help Carolina escape with a win.
Carolina shot 41% for the game, but they poured in 11 three-pointers to make up for it. Miami shot 42% from the field, but they were just 6-23 from beyond the arc. Miami entered the game allowing the fourth fewest free throws per game, but Carolina got to the foul line 24 times, making 16 of them, 5 more than Miami allowed entering the game on average. For the thirteenth straight game, Carolina outrebounded its opponents, winning the battle of the boards, 43-38, including 15-14 on the offensive glass.
The Tar Heels trailed 41-40 at the half, after building a 12-point lead in the early going. That made it the third straight game that UNC squandered a double-digit lead on the road in the first half, a trend that needs to be broken. Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier combined to score 34 of Miami’s 41 first-half points, with Pack hitting from outside, and Omeir finishing on the inside.
Coming out of the locker room, Carolina hit Miami with a 14-5 run, to reestablish control of the game. There was a four-point possession for R.J. Davis after he was fouled shooting the basketball, Norchad Omier wasn’t happy with the foul and picked up a technical in the process. Carolina would once again build a double-digit lead, leading by as many as 12, before they opted to take the air out of the ball at around the 8-minute mark or so. At the game's final media timeout, Carolina held a 72-65 lead, but if it wasn’t for an Armando Bacot block with the game at 73-71, it’s uncertain if UNC would’ve emerged victorious this afternoon. Carolina won the game despite not making a field goal over the final 4:07.
It wasn’t easy, and Hubert Davis shouldn’t be pleased with how his team closed the game out, but the most important thing is that Carolina exited with a win, and they are now 6-1 on the road this season, and this win, may be one we look back on if Carolina ultimately wins the ACC regular season title.
Second Half Bacot: After attempting just three shots in the first half, Bacot scored 8 points in the second half, before fouling out in the closing seconds. Bacot did a good job fighting for position in the first half, but Carolina’s guards weren’t seeking to find him. That changed in the second half, and Bacot made timely baskets at the rim. He recorded his 79th double-double, and in the process, and in the process he became UNC’s third-time leading scorer, and the ACC’s third all-time leading rebounder, while playing in his 156th game, a new UNC record.
Second-Half Defense: After allowing 41 first-half points, which were more points than Miami scored in their loss to Virginia earlier in the week, Miami scored 31 points in the final 20 minutes. They shot 48% from the field in the first stanza, including going 4-9 from deep, but they shot 13% from the field in the second half and were 2-14 from deep. In the second half Carolina played as well defensively as they have in a couple of weeks, headlined by R.J. David harassing Nijel Pack on the perimeter.
No Seth Trimble: Trimble was held out once again with an upper-body injury, and his absence was felt once again, as Carolina got just one point off the bench, from freshman Zayden High. Paxson Wojcik played 18 minutes, the most of any Tar Heel reserve, and while he didn’t score, he impacted the game with his energy and hustle on the defensive end, where he grabbed three rebounds. Nonetheless, the sooner Trimble returns the better.
Davis Delivers: R.J. Davis continues to prove why he’s going to be the ACC Player of the Year, scoring 25 points, despite a 6-19 shooting night. He returned to form at the foul line, going 8-8, including 4-4 on the sequence where Omier picked up a technical foul.
Free Throws: It was important that Carolina got Miami into some sort of foul trouble, and they did just did, getting into the bonus with 13:11 left in the game. Overall, Carolina was 16-24 from the foul line, compared to Miami going 10-13. Davis led the way going 8-8, while Harrison Ingram was 3-7.
Perimeter Shooting: Carolina may have gone 11-31 from deep, but every triple felt big and was a big reason why they won today. Davis was 5-11 from deep, but he had help as three other Tar Heels connected from deep. Ingram was 2-5, Cadeau was 2-6, and Ryan was 2-5. The fact that Davis had help, made it easier for Carolina to put the ball on the floor, and attack the basket, as they scored 24 points in the paint. The 11 made three-pointers are the most by UNC in an ACC game this season.
Turnovers: Had Carolina lost the game, turnovers would’ve been a big reason why, as UNC turned it over 16 times, leading to 22 points for Miami. On the flipside, Miami turned it over 13 times, but Carolina managed just 7 points off of them. Every Tar Heel committed at least one turnover, headlined by 5 from Elliot Cadeau.
Up Next: It’s another road game for Carolina, as they travel to Syracuse on Tuesday night, to take on the Orange, That game is set to tip at 7 PM on ESPN.
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