There were a couple of ways to look at the UNC/NC State game prior to tip-off: either the Heels were going to show out on Roy Williams Day with Michael Jordan in attendance, or it was going to be a trap game and NC State would laugh their way back to Raleigh with an upset win. Thankfully the former happened, and boy did it happen in a big way. The Heels were lights out from the three-point line, and the Wolfpack ended up leaving the Dean Dome with their tails between their legs to the tune of 100-80.
The Heels immediately jumped out to a lead to start the game thanks to a three-pointer from Brady Manek. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he was setting the stage for what would be an outrageous first half. Manek, Caleb Love, RJ Davis, Leaky Black, Puff Johnson, and Kerwin Walton all hit at least one three in the first 20 minutes. The more the threes started to go down, the more breathing room Bacot started to get, which allowed him to knock down three of his five field goal attempts.
As far as the Wolfpack goes, they were suffocated by UNC’s defense, and even when they had open looks they failed to knock them down efficiently. They finished the first half making 30% of their shots from the field and 38% from three, though really the only State player who did any notable damage from deep was Jericole Hellems, who also led the half with 14 points. Terquavion Smith also had a good half, making five of his 11 tries from the field, which was good for 13 points. Still, UNC went into the locker room with a 56-31 lead, and things only got worse from there for the Pack.
Though it doesn’t seem like it got worse for NC State in the second half based on the final score, it indeed got worse. The Heels continued to drain shots from deep, with Caleb Love and RJ Davis doing a bulk of the damage. Armando Bacot also continued to attack, and found his way to the free throw line to help grow the lead.
If there were any nits to pick, The Heels allowed Smith to get hot: he scored 21 points and went a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Hellems also added 11 points to his total, but aside from those two guys, the Wolfpack just didn’t have enough to make a solid run. Hubert Davis made a number of substitutions in the final five minutes, and yet the Heels still found a way to drop biscuit numbers on the Pack thanks to six points from Dontrez Styles and a made free throw from Jackson Watkins.
The biggest takeaway from this game is that UNC knew that their performance in their win against Boston College was disappointing, and they made a statement against that team in Raleigh. Armando Bacot finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, which is awesome to see after his poor performance against BC. It was also good to see just about everyone in the normal rotation make shoots from deep, which created a really difficult situation for the Wolfpack on defense. It was a much needed game for the Tar Heels, and the absolute worst-case scenario for that team in Raleigh. You love to see it.
After playing at home three games in a row, UNC will now travel to Kentucky to take on Louisville at the Yum! Center on Tuesday. Let’s see if they can finally take this show on the road, and leave whatever it is that they normally bring with them in their dorm rooms.