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UNC starts slow but finishes strong in win over Kentucky

Carolina held the Wildcats in check in the second half to pick up a win in the CBS Sports Classic.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Kentucky Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of today’s UNC game against Kentucky looked quite a bit like the other Carolina games we’ve seen so far this season. As they tend to do, UNC fell behind by double figures early. That continues to be an issue for this young Tar Heel team, but fortunately they were able to right the ship in the second half on their way to a 75-63 win over the Wildcats.

Foul trouble was a problem for Kentucky all afternoon. Before it was all said and done, Terrence Clarke, Isaiah Jackson, Olivier Sarr, and Lance Ware all fouled out of the game. That level of extreme foul trouble forced the Wildcats, who were already trailing, to roll out a small lineup that could not compete with UNC’s size down low.

Late in the second half, Carolina went on a 20-6 run over nearly nine minutes in which Kentucky failed to hit a field goal. That ended up being the difference in a close game that came down to free throws, which would have been a nightmare for any UNC fan that has watched games this season, and a decently comfortable win. All in all, UNC held Kentucky to just 25 points in the second half while scoring 41 points of their own.

Armando Bacot led the way for Carolina in scoring with 14 points and eight rebounds. Right behind him, though, was freshman Kerwin Walton. Walton came off the bench to chip in three huge three-pointers, and was responsible for a little 8-0 UNC run all by himself. With RJ Davis missing time in the game with a knee issue, Walton played valuable minutes and made really valuable contributions. Caleb Love and Garrison Brooks joined them in double figures with 11 points each. Love had six assists and two turnovers, a much better ratio than in recent games for the freshman point guard.

Carolina also took care of the ball better in today’s game than we’ve seen in games as of late. They turned the ball over 11 times, which definitely leaves room for improvement, but they minimized opportunities for the Wildcats scoring off their mistakes to just six points. The Heels were out-rebounded slightly, 42-38, which usually isn’t a good sign for a Roy Williams team, but they managed to make it work down the stretch.

This is certainly not your average Kentucky team, but it feels good to pick up a win against them all the same. This team continues to show a great deal of fight in order to battle back from their tendency to have slow starts, which already feels different than games from last season. There is only so much time you can still call it early and that time is pretty rapidly running out. They’ll now head into ACC play with a good win under their belt, which is always nice.

Carolina will take on NC State Tuesday night.