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UNC 83, Notre Dame 76: Tar Heels power through late challenge for big win

The Irish surged late, but the Tar Heels were able to hold them off at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Notre Dame v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Greensboro Coliseum was rocking all afternoon, decked out in pretty much 100% Carolina blue. The Tar Heels didn’t get to play this one in the Dean Dome, but they certainly brought all of their support with them. As Notre Dame surged late in the game, the crowd came more and more to life to rally behind the Heels.

One order of business before we get to the game: the refereeing in the second half was terrible. Let’s just admit that as a fact. The sheer volume of inexplicable phantom calls bordered on embarrassing. It’s often too easy to point to the refs when things aren’t going right, but I believe even anyone could see that it was bad.

Fighting the Irish and the refs could have cost UNC the game if they buckled under the pressure. Instead, the team hunkered down and powered through the adversity. They did it without Kennedy Meeks, who fouled out on one of the aforementioned phantom calls. They did it despite starting the game atrociously from the free throw line.

As he often does, Justin Jackson led the way with 16 points. All told, six Tar Heels made it into double figures. Tony Bradley was a huge presence off the bench, scoring 12 points and pulling down five rebounds. Carolina won the rebounding battle, 44-25, continuing to assert their dominance in the category.

Kenny Williams hit three three-pointers on his way to 11 points. Joel Berry II, Isaiah Hicks, and Meeks rounded out the Heels with ten or more points.

It was a nice return to the Greensboro Coliseum for Carolina, who didn’t enjoy the result quite as much the last time they faced Notre Dame there. While it looked like UNC may run away with the game at times, they were never quite able to do so. That was compounded by everything mentioned above. It nearly culminated in Roy Williams breaking his hand on the scoring table in frustration.

Now all eyes go toward the Duke game Thursday night. That one, as weird as it sounds, won’t be as big as this one. The Tar Heels beat a good team in a different building at a different time than had been planned. They showed tons of heart and plenty of toughness.

Those who made their way to Greensboro were treated to a great game. They showed their appreciation by being loud and on their feet for the large majority of the game. It was a great atmosphere, and we can only hope that games like this will be able to return to Greensboro before too long.