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UNC 73 - Tennessee 71: Tar Heels rally behind Tony Bradley for late-game win

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The Heels played a poor first half, but they got it done when it mattered.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at North Carolina Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

UNC stole a game from Tennessee that it looked like they may not be able to pull out in the end. Carolina trailed for a large chunk of the game before taking over in the final two+ minutes for the win. The driving force behind that win? Freshman Tony Bradley.

Carolina trailed 44-36 at halftime, shooting only 36% for the half. Tennessee closed out the first half making half of their shots from 3 and 65% from the field. UNC came out strong to start the second half, and it was there that they began to make their move.

Kenny Williams led the way for the Tar Heels with 12 points, but the day belonged to Tony Bradley. The freshman post player had ten points and ten rebounds for the team’s only double-double. Bradley did a little bit of everything, and UNC just seemed to be better when he was on the floor.

Nate Britt also played some crucial minutes for the Tar Heels down the stretch, forcing important turnovers and dishing seven assists in his 33 minutes of play. Without Joel Berry on the floor, Britt’s play has definitely been under the microscope. It hasn’t been great at times, but he played pretty well when it counted in the second half.

For all of the heat that Seventh Woods has (rightfully) taken from Roy Williams, he had two nifty plays down the stretch that helped the Heels to win. He showed the athleticism that he’s known for, but he was also smart and crafty. That should only continue to improve as he grows as a player. More plays like that might finally get him out of Williams’ doghouse.

The message in Williams’ postgame conference was how lucky the team got. The team didn’t play as well as they can, for sure, but they also toughened up in the final minutes and played like a team that knows how to win. Tennessee was the better team for a large chunk of the game, but give Carolina some credit for being able to close it out.

The free throw situation is still pretty precarious. UNC made just 54% of their shots from the charity stripe, which looked like it might really hurt them with a narrow lead with under a minute to go. Some fortunate plays kept that from coming to fruition, though.

UNC gets some time off before their meeting with Kentucky in Las Vegas on the 17th. They will absolutely have to play better than they did today to hang with the Wildcats.