UNC was able to shake off a shaky first half and a big Georgia Tech run in a dominant second half to pick up their first win of the season with a 79-62 victory in Atlanta. The teams went to the locker room at halftime tied at 31 a piece after the Yellow Jackets shot 63% from three-point range in the first half. Carolina came out in the second half all business and pulled away from Georgia Tech for the decisive win.
RJ Davis led the way for UNC with 23 points and four three-pointers in the game. Fellow sophomore guard Caleb Love was just behind him with 17 points of his own with five assists for each of them. These two are really settling into their roles this season and it is truly great to see. Armando Bacot and Brady Manek joined Davis and Love in double figures with Bacot posting a double-double with 13 rebounds and another four assists himself.
The second half was much more like what we saw from the Tar Heels during the Michigan game. They held the Yellow Jacket offense largely in check while they shot 66% from the field to put real distance between them and a team they were tied with at the half. Runs like the one Georgia Tech went on midway through the first half would almost certainly have broken last year’s team, as we saw in many games, but this version of the Heels was able to pick themselves up off the mat before things got really out of control and regained their composure.
Getting a good conference road win out of the way in early December is also a bonus. I am not sure anyone really knows what to make of the ACC so far this season, as there has been absolute chaos pretty much up and down the league, but UNC has at least earned a spot in the conversation as one of the better teams to this point in the season. Hopefully they will keep this solid streak going with a couple of tuneup games against Elon and Furman on the schedule ahead of a date with UCLA on December 18th.
It was mentioned on the broadcast of today’s game, but it is worth repeating: one of the best things about this squad so far this year is that there are so many guys who can go off and beat you. We’ve seen the Dawson Garcia Game, the Brady Manek Game, and multiple games where Love or Davis were dominant. It helps when you can rely on more than one guy to be the guy on any given night, and so far UNC has been able to do just that. That kind of balance is really important for success in the thick of a season, so hopefully it is a pattern that continues.
UNC gets a bit of a break before returning to action next Saturday against Elon.