It took a while, but we finally got to Caleb Love’s coming out party this season. The freshman point guard put up a 20-point game against Wake Forest in the Tar Heels’ 80-73 win Wednesday night. Carolina was able to limit their turnovers to just 12, which was much better than their opponents’ 20 that led directly to 24 points in a relatively close game.
UNC trailed the Demon Deacons by two points, 33-31, at halftime after a sputtering first half for both teams. The Heels had nine of their 12 total turnovers in the first half. Whatever Roy Williams said at halftime worked, because they were a much better team in the second half. UNC shot 55% from the field after halftime on their way to a 49-point half. Wake Forest, by comparison, shot just 39% in the second half.
Love’s 20 points led the team in scoring with Armando Bacot just behind him with 18 points. Love turned it over just three times and also had three assists. RJ Davis and Garrison Brooks joined Love and Bacot in double figures but no Tar Heel got into double figures on the glass. Second chance points have been where the Heels have made their money so many times this season, but they were bested in the category tonight 18-9.
Another clear differentiator in the game was how well Carolina was able to steal the ball. They had 12 against the Demon Deacons, which undoubtedly helped with their 17-7 fast break margin. That is the kind of thing that is so important to Carolina being able to play Carolina basketball and there have been games where that seemed to be missing. Tonight was not one of them.
It seemed like the last game against Florida State showed us all something about this version of the Tar Heels, even beyond what their four-game win streak had shown. Beating Wake Forest this season isn’t going to be a pin on anyone’s board when reviewing this season, but seeing Love excel after struggling all season makes it feel like the little bit extra we saw against the Seminoles could be a more permanent fixture going forward.
UNC will be back in action on Saturday when they welcome NC State to the Dean Dome.