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UNC prevails in rock fight against NC State as Armando Bacot sets new rebounding record

It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC came into today’s game against NC State with quite a bit on the line. The Tar Heels were trying to stay perfect at home this season, Armando Bacot was chasing two big Carolina records, and there was a Quad 1 win on the line. The game turned into an absolute rock fight, but the Tar Heels were able to prevail in the end, winning 80-69.

Armando Bacot and RJ Davis were absolute forces for UNC, combining for 49 of the team’s points. Bacot managed to break both the records he was chasing with 23 points and 18 rebounds, moving him into the lead for most double-doubles and most rebounds in program history. Davis led all scorers with 26 points, going a perfect 14-14 from the free throw line. Caleb Love joined them in double figures with 16 points.

NC State came into today’s game with a -100+ free throw differential to this point in the season, and today was more of the same for them. Carolina got to the free throw line 39 times and connected on 36 of them. The Wolfpack were just 12-12 from the line.

After a pretty evenly matched first half that saw UNC head to the locker room with a one-point lead, things deteriorated into chippy chaos in the second half. A non-zero amount of that was the fault of the referee crew. Leaky Black attempted to block a shot from State’s Terquavion Smith before Smith landed hard on the ground by the basket. Smith was unable to get up and medical personnel brought out a stretcher and an air cast after he was down for an extended period of time. The extent of Smith’s injuries seemed to be a heavy factor in the refs calling a Flagrant 2 on Black, ejecting him from the game. The play was 100% a basketball play on the ball. Black had no way to control the way Smith landed, but he was punished for it anyway.

Love caught a hard hand to the face shortly after the call on Leaky, which he obviously took exception to. The refs ruled that one a Flagrant 1, which is likely the correct call, but the contact was certainly less of a play on the ball than what Black did.

The Tar Heels managed to keep the Wolfpack at arm’s length through the second half while not being able to fully put them away. Neither team made a three-pointer after halftime. State found themselves in a world of foul trouble, as you would expect from allowing 39 free throws, and it was all too much for them to overcome especially without their best player in Smith.

There weren’t many turnovers or many assists for either team, but Carolina absolutely feasted on the boards, winning the battle 42-27. Between that and the large free throw difference, they were able to hang on and pick up the important Quad 1 win.

UNC heads to Syracuse to face the Orange on Tuesday.