With North Carolina needing a deep ACC Tournament run and quite possible an outright tourney win to reach the NCAA Tournament, they would’ve been hoping for a mostly straightforward victory in their opener against Boston College. They got that, thanks in large part due to the play of their starting backcourt, especially Caleb Love.
Love has come under criticism this season, and at times it’s been quite warranted. However on Wednesday night, he was exactly what the Tar Heels needed in a 85-61 win over the Eagles. He finished as Carolina’s leading scorer with 22 points, helping UNC get off to a good start in a hopeful ‘four games in four days’ situation.
After an even first four minutes, the game was tied at 10 after the teams traded baskets back and forth. From there on out, the Heels outscored BC 33-19 over the rest of the first half and really never looked back from there. Love was a huge part in Carolina opening up that lead, as he went for 12 points in the first half. Early in the second half, he converted an and one attempt after getting fouled on a made layup. That took UNC’s lead out to 19, and basically stayed right in that range for the remainder of the game.
Love’s 22 points came on 9-20 shooting, including 3-8 from three. Beyond the points, he dished out two assists, grabbed four rebounds, and had three steals and a block.
Running Love close for POTG was his backcourt mate RJ Davis. You could certainly make the argument for him, as he was slightly more efficient than Love, scoring 18 points on on 7-12 shooting, and 4-6 from three. You can’t go wrong either way in picking between the two. There was a point midway through the second half where they were nearly outscoring Boston College on their own.
Beyond them, a shoutout has to go to Armando Bacot for battling through. He came out with an ankle injury in the first half, and missed the remainder of the period. It seemed unclear if he would return, but he gutted out a second half, and finished the game with 10 points and six rebounds. It simply wouldn’t be a UNC March without having to keep an eye on a key player with some sort of injury.
Also, Pete Nance finished with 10 points, but more impressively had a nice little rim-protecting performance, putting up four blocks.
North Carolina still has a ways to go if they are going to make sure they get into the NCAA Tournament. However, if Caleb Love can play like he did on Wednesday night — especially in the first half — then that’ll help quite a lot.