The first half of Friday night’s game will hopefully go down as one of, if not the most frustrating one North Carolina plays this season, and they’ll improve from here. It was not great, as College of Charleston dropped 50 points and dropped a seven-point lead going into the break.
UNC completely flipped the script in the second 20 minutes, outscoring the Cougars 59-36 to put them away. The story of that turnaround was most evident in Armando Bacot, whose big second half helped the Tar Heels end up with a double digit win.
In the first half, Bacot was completely out of things. He put up just one point, missing his only shot of the half and getting his only point on a free throw, after going 1-3 from the line. Even more worrying was that he had just one rebound. That in general was a major issue for the Heels, as Charleston outrebounded them en route to the 50-point first half. The Cougars shot the ball well in the first 20 minutes, but at 52.5%, it wasn’t as if they were doing something extraordinary. A lot of those points came because they managed to get both offensive and defensive rebounds. Bacot’s struggles on the boards were notable. Usually, he had still been able to put up numbers in that department even if he was having a sub-par game in other areas.
Then the second half started.
Over the last 20 minutes, the Tar Heels really started to attack that basket, both by trying to get to the rim and by getting the ball inside. Bacot coming alive was a major reason that worked out perfectly. In the second half, he went 10-12 from the floor and went 7-9 on his trips to the free throw line. He put up 27 points over the second half, which was more than anyone else scored in the entire game. He was also a bit better on the boards, grabbing five second half rebounds as UNC eventually saw out the game. Bacot’s improvement also mirrored Carolina’s, as they put away the pesky opponent.
Also POTG nominees include Caleb Love, who also had a big second half. He scored 25 points and came just a rebound short of a double double. Seventeen of those points came in the second half, as he was the main spark in the initial rally that saw the Heels quickly erase their halftime deficit and tie the game less than two minutes after the break.
Leaky Black went for 15 points after going a perfect 6-6 from the field, and 2-2 from three. Also, shoutout to Seth Trimble. He only scored four points, but he provided a nice spark off the bench, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
How quickly UNC were able to turn things around makes me hope it was a situation where they were just playing with their food. Because as good as it was, I hope they don’t have to keep relying on 27 point halves from players.