Well, that wasn’t as much fun as UNC fans had hoped. If you happened to watch the Tar Heels against Boston College, you may have thought you were were watching a replay of last year’s ACC contest in the Silvio Conte Forum. You know, when UNC barely squeaked by an Eagles team that didn’t win a conference game all year? It was that kind of afternoon, until the Heels finally pulled away in the final minutes.
Once again, the Heels got off to a slow start in an ACC road game that tipped off at noon (we’re looking at you, Georgia Tech). However, unlike previous games, the Heels did just enough to hold off the Eagles. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson, the Tar Heels will leave Massachusetts with their sixth straight win (18-3 overall, 6-1 ACC). Boston College fell to 2-5 in the ACC and 9-11 overall.
The first half started innocently enough, as UNC scored the first points of the game on a Kennedy Meeks jump shot. That set the tone for the game, where UNC never trailed, but never really could pull away. North Carolina tried to extend their lead multiple times, including a 27-17 lead with 6:18 left in the first half.
Unfortunately, the Heels did not score again until a Tony Bradley free throw with 2:25 lef in the first half. At one point, UNC went over five minutes without a field goal. In that time, Boston College freshman Ky Bowman - a Havelock, NC native- took charge, scored 10 points in a row. He finished the half with 21 points, thanks to shooting 5-7 from behind the arc.
The second half was an extension of the first as UNC threatened to pull away multiple times, before the Eagles would stifle any momentum. It was your typical ACC road game - the kind that reminds you that you can lose on any day, to any team. Fortunately, while trying to run away from Boston College, UNC’s depth became noticeable as multiple players made significant, timely contributions.
Kennedy Meeks had 14 points in the second half, as the Heels tried to establish their superiority in the paint.
Nate Britt had a driving lay-up near the 14-minute mark to push the lead to 6.
Minutes later, when the Eagles cut the lead to 3, Jackson hit his third three of the game on an assist from Kenny Williams. That pushed the lead back to 6.
Then with 5 minutes to go, on back to back possessions, Theo Pinson recorded two offensive rebounds and lay-ups to push the lead to 7. Every time the Eagles made it a one possession game, the Heels responded.
That 7 point lead was the largest of the second half until a back-breaking three pointer by an otherwise quiet Joel Berry with 1:14 remaining, pushing the UNC lead to 81-72. That bucket and 9 point lead forced a Boston College timeout. After that, the victory was never in doubt, despite Boston College somehow scoring 10 points in the final 42 seconds.
Kennedy Meeks once again had a solid outing, with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Justin Jackson continued his high-scoring ways with 22 points, seven of them from the free throw line.
Theo Pinson continues to prove his immense value, with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Tony Bradley, who missed two games with a concussion, returned to action. He was eased back into the lineup where he tallied 5 points and 6 rebounds in 11 minutes.
UNC once again struggled to contain an opposing team’s perimeter players. Boston College finished the game shooting 12-27 (44%) from three. They were led by Ky Bowman, who finished the game with 33 points, while shooting 13-19 from the floor (7-9 from three). Justin Robinson, a freshman from Raleigh, contributed 18 points.
The Tar Heels finished the game with a 43-21 rebounding advantage. That effort led to the 24-14 advantage in second chance points.