A fair amount of UNC’s game against Ohio State on Saturday looked like games we’ve seen from the Tar Heels before this season. UNC fell behind and seemed to struggle to come all the way back despite drawing close on multiple occasions. Trailing by two points in the last few seconds of the second half, Pete Nance hit a buzzer-beater to send the CBS Sports Classic to overtime. From there, the Tar Heels were able to keep their foot on the gas and win 89-84.
The Tar Heels were down as many as 14 in the first half as they shot just 11% from beyond the arc. Only Armando Bacot was able to keep their heads above water to keep the nine-point deficit from being worse. While UNC was going 1-9 from long distance, the Buckeyes hit seven of their three-pointers and shot 53% from the field.
Despite their success from three in the first half, Ohio State shot just four threes after halftime. Carolina managed to heat up a bit from distance, which isn’t hard to do after their first half struggles, but Caleb Love hit three threes while Leaky Black and RJ Davis chipped in one a piece. Love led the Heels after halftime with 15 points after having just three points in the first half.
Carolina really made up for their shooting struggles by getting to the free throw line. They made more free throws (19) than Ohio State even attempted (14). They also punished the Buckeyes for their 16 turnovers by scoring 27 points off those miscues.
Bacot was the team leader in points with 28 and 15 rebounds. Love and Davis weren’t all that far behind with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Love also had seven assists to two turnovers with zero fouls. Although Nance struggled from long distance in the game, his shot to send it to overtime gave UNC life that they desperately needed.
A Davis three gave UNC a narrow 75-74 lead with 1:29 left in the game. Zed Key had a three of his own with 31 seconds remaining before a Bacot layup tied the game again with 17 seconds to go. When Brice Sensabaugh hit a jumper with three seconds left on the clock, it looked like all the Heels’ effort may be for naught. UNC advanced the ball, called timeout, and then Nance did his thing to send the game to overtime. Love, Davis, and Bacot took it from there.
This was probably the most toughness we’ve seen from the Tar Heels all season. There was obviously a lot that went into the four-overtime loss to Alabama, but Carolina was able to keep this game from spiraling in order to give themselves a chance to come back and come away with a win. It looked like they may come up short despite all the chances they had down the stretch, but Nance’s shot gave them the chance they needed to do something with the momentum. That chance turned out to be all they needed.
UNC will take on Michigan Wednesday night in the Jumpman Invitational from Charlotte.