UNC basketball Head Coach Hubert Davis finally got his first ever big time victory over a Division I Top 25 men’s basketball team. After losing two straight games to ranked teams, Purdue and Tennessee, in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament and thrashing UNC-Asheville, Carolina totally dismantled 24th ranked Michigan Wednesday night by the score of 72-51.
This was their first signature win of the year in The ACC/Big Ten Challenge and their first victory in the Challenge in four years. Sophomore Caleb Love led the charge with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists while knocking down four three-pointers.
Junior Armando Bacot, the team leader, had his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds. The other big scorers were Dawson Garcia with 14 points and R.J. Davis and Brady Manek with nine points each.
The Tar Heels led 29-27 at the half but lit up the second half by shooting 58% to turn the game into a surprising rout. Coach Davis said his team’s effort and energy in the 17 point loss to Tennessee were very disappointing. “We just had to do some soul searching, and we just had to figure out: Do we really want to be a good team or a great team?” Bacot said.
“I feel we took a step in the right direction. I mean, we all were just pretty upset and (ticked) off about it. And just some of the things that were just said about us as a team, we didn’t like it at all.” The response?
The team was active defensively and did a better job establishing a presence under the basket to get Dawson and Bacot better looks. “I felt like our guys wanted another opportunity against a big-time team,” Davis said.
At the beginning of the second half, Bacot played more aggressive and was fouled twice in a span of 12 seconds by Michigan’s top big man, Hunter Dickinson. That sent Dickinson to the bench for the next 10-plus minutes with four fouls.
From this point on, Michigan could get nothing going, and Carolina steamrolled them to stretch the lead to as much as 25 points. Michigan shot 9 of 27 (33%) after halftime as UNC pushed the margin to double figures and then got back-to-back 3s from Love to make it 59-40 with 6:49 left in the game.
As legendary analyst Dick Vitale and All-Time Tar Heel great Antawn Jamison watched, Carolina gave up its fewest points allowed in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game, with the previous low mark of 55 at Ohio State in 2007.
This was also UNC’s largest margin of victory in the Challenge since the 2009 national champions beat Michigan State by 35 points in Detroit in December during the 2008-2009 season. Hopefully, this resurgence will be the catalyst Carolina needs to rival the heights reached by that 2009 team!
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member