UNC made quick work of Marquette in their first game of the NCAA Tournament on their way to a 95-63 victory. The game was chippy in the first half, with the Golden Eagles being called for three technical fouls in the first 20 minutes of play, but things settled down to an easy victory in the second half.
Brady Manek was terrific with a season-high 28 points and 11 rebounds. He finished the day 10 of 15 from the floor. Caleb Love also had lots of offensive success with six made three-pointers on his way to 23 points. Twenty-one of Caleb’s points came in the first half. Love was the recipient of a lot of the aforementioned chippiness, ending up in a head lock at one point in the first half. Thankfully, the sophomore was able to shrug it off and keep doing his thing of pouring on the points. Armando Bacot (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Puff Johnson (11 points off the bench) were the other Tar Heels in double figures.
While RJ Davis didn’t light up the box score with scoring, he had an incredibly impressive 12 assists in an expanded role as the team’s primary ball-handler. The team as a whole shot 46% from the field in the game after shooting 39% in the first half. The 28-point lead at halftime for UNC was largely thanks to their 21 second chance points and a huge differential (30-9) in points from beyond the arc.
Today was a great bounce-back from the UNC we saw in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. A wise man once said everything looks better when the ball is going through the basket, and it’s extremely true. The team that showed up today absolutely has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the good teams in this tournament. They just have to continue to show up with the same intensity.
Carolina will be back in action on Saturday when they meet the #1 seed in the region, Baylor.