No. 12 UNC-Chapel Hill defeated No. 15 NC State men’s basketball team, 92-80 Tuesday night at PNC Arena. With the win the Tar Heels improve to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. The Wolfpack drop to 13-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play.
The atmosphere in the packed PNC Arena was electric with Wolfpack fans hoping to witness their team beat the Tar Heels in their house for the first time in the last 5 tries, but a 12-0 Carolina run to open the game took the wind out of the Pack’s sail and although they were able to recover and tie the game with 16:53 remaining in the 2nd half, the Tar Heels never allowed them to take the lead.
“At the half, with the score 47-42, they scored the first five, tied it up, and then we scored,” Roy Williams said after the game. “They got it tied at 60 or something like that. It was crazy because I almost never watch the scoreboard, but I was watching that board tonight because I didn’t want to see a turnover. I thought we answered every challenge and never gave up the lead. Every time they went on a run, we’d come back and answer it.”
Pack Head Coach Kevin Keatts said the tough start caused his team to get away from the game plan going in, but he was happy his squad showed the resilience to battle back the way they did.
“What happens when you start the game slow and miss some shots, because everybody is a competitor, is that they will try to bring us back by themselves. I thought we didn’t share the ball particularly well. We went into the game saying that we wanted to get as many touches as we can and spread out the shooters, but we didn’t do that. We didn’t move the ball enough…We won’t lay down. These guys are fighters and it shows a lot about us, the program, and the direction that we are moving in. We refuse to just lay down.”
Tar Heel fans got a scare when Cam Johnson went down with 12:10 remaining in the game and did not return, but he told us afterward it was just cramping.
No need to worry Tar Heel fans, Cam Johnson says it was just cramping that kept him out of the game in the 2nd half. Says he even tried to get back out there. pic.twitter.com/1i1XW0VCP0
— Carolina Blitz (@KeepBlitzin) January 9, 2019
The Tar Heels are now 2-0 in league play with Louisville coming to town on Saturday.
“It’s getting tight, but you can’t beat it, so I like that part of it,” Roy Williams said about his team’s ACC start. “We’re trying to get better. I know it sounds corny to you guys, but that’s what we’re really trying to do every day at the game and at practice. I told them “Hey! That’s a pretty good start 2-0. I like that, but now put that behind you and be ready to get better the next day at practice.”
- Luke Maye led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
- All 5 Tar Heel starters scored in double figures.
- Braxton Beverly scored 21 points off the bench for NC State, including 5-7 from 3.
- The Tar Heels out-rebounded the Wolfpack 51-33.
- NC State’s bench outscored the Tar Heels 43-9.
- UNC turned the ball over 23 times.