It took until January 14th, but UNC was finally able to win their first road game of the season on Saturday when they took down Louisville in the YUM Center. Carolina also got Armando Bacot back from his ankle injury earlier in the week, and the big man was a big contributor even while probably not being at 100%.
Bacot tied for the team lead in points with 14, and another double-double effort with 16 boards. Some foul trouble caused him to be off the floor more than is typical, but that was probably for the best as he tries to get his ankle right going forward. When he went down in the game against Virginia it didn’t even seem likely that he’d play today, so it was good to see him be able start and put up numbers like we’re used to seeing.
D’Marco Dunn came off the bench to tie Bacot as the leading scorer for UNC. He was 5-7 from the field, including 2-3 from three, and chipped in five rebounds in 26 minutes of action. Puff Johnson, who got the start with Pete Nance still out, went on a torrid stretch in the second half that allowed UNC to get out to a comfortable lead and finished the game with 12 points. RJ Davis and Caleb Love joined them in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
While Love struggled offensively, ending his 20+ game three-pointer streak with 0-7 from long distance, he was an active participant on defense with five steals. The team as a whole shot 47% from the field for the game and 29% from three while Louisville made just one three-pointer out of their 14 attempts.
Both teams were careless with the ball at times, turning it over 14 times a piece. However, UNC was able to turn those 14 Louisville turnovers into 23 points on the other end. The Cardinals, on the other hand, only got eight points out of the Tar Heel turnovers. That helped Carolina get 17 of their points off fast breaks. UNC was also able to out-rebound Louisville, 40-31.
The Cardinals are obviously struggling mightily this year. They are winless in ACC play and have just two wins this season. While some segments of the first half looked like Carolina playing down to an inferior opponent, as we’ve seen a couple times this season, they were able to turn it on by shooting 54% in the second half. That was definitely assisted by Louisville turning in a seven minute streak without a field goal.
UNC will look to keep things rolling when they welcome Boston College to Chapel Hill Tuesday night.