CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– Two years ago at Mohegan Sun Armando Bacot and RJ Davis felt bullied by the Tennessee Vols. The 17-point loss left the Tar Heels embarrassed and with a pit in their stomach, something both players swore wouldn’t happen again.
And it didn’t.
Last night North Carolina played its best first half of the season en route to a 100-92 win over No.10-ranked Tennessee during ACC/SEC challenge. It was a high-profile win for the Tar Heels, as they delivered the Vols their third straight loss -improving to 5-2 on the season.
Four players scored double digits, including three scoring 20 or more points. The drive was led by the only two Tar Heels who were there for that 2021 loss. Davis and Bacot who put up 27 points and 22 respectively. Harrison Ingram put up a season-high tying 20 points, showing off his expertise from beyond the arc. He
and Davis were electric from the three-point line, combining for nine made 3-pointers.
“From an offensive standpoint it was one of the better halves since I’ve been here for 12 years as an assistant and as a head coach,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. “It was pretty special.”
Freshman guard Elliot Cadeau had perhaps the cleanest game – notching 11 assists with zero turnovers, showing us the impact of his pass-first playmaking style.
It was an incredibly efficient offensive outing for the Tar Heels who led by as many as 23 points in the first half after laying it down from long-range and utilizing their many FT calls to pull away from the Volunteers. They shot 41.7 percent from the three-point line (12-of-28) and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line (32-of-38).
The Tar Heels got momentum early, pulling away from the Vols to lead by as many as 23 points in the first half. Everything was going right for the Heels and wrong for the Volunteers. UNC landed 7-of-16 of their 3-pointers in the first whereas the Vols were just 1-of-13 in their attempts.
“We’re playing fast, we’re sharing the ball, I don’t think anybody is stopping us,” Ingram said.
After the break, UNC continued their dominative performance even as the Vols attempted to chip away at the lead. Their comeback was a strong effort, but it was short-lived as they fell behind even further as the Tar Heels continuously kept a double-digit lead for the first 12 minutes of the second half.
Vols guard Dalton Knecht put in all the work for the Vols – contributing 37 points, but he needed help that simply wasn’t there.
“We don’t want people in our building dropping 37,” Ingram said. “I took it personally and tried to stop him.”
When asked about what the ceiling of this team is, Ingram said, “national championship,” continuing to say that when this team is clicking on all cylinders, “no one’s gonna stop them.”
UNC was able to regain control of the game in the final minutes with a clean finish by Davis who sloshed in two perfect free throws with 17 seconds left in the contest – capping off a statement win for the Tar Heels.
“Before the game and leading up to it, what we have talked about is there’s only two things that you’re really in control of: how you react and how you respond to things,” coach Davis said. “What is our response and coming back home and putting on that uniform and running out of that tunnel and playing on that floor in front of 22,000 fans? So it’s all about the thing that we’re just trying to get better and trying to improve every day, every game. I feel like we took a step forward in terms of our improvement and becoming the team that we want to become.”
North Carolina will open conference play this Saturday against FSU at 2:00 p.m. in the Dean Dome.