UNC and NC State came into tonight’s game tied undefeated in conference play, but the Tar Heels held the line and wore down the Wolfpack late to move to 4-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2015-2016 with a 67-54 win in Raleigh.
Carolina brought their defense to hold their fourth straight opponent to 60 or fewer points. State was ice cold from distance, shooting 2-21 from three. They also shot just 27% from the field. Casey Morsell was the only Wolfpack player in double figures with 12 points.
Despite their poor shooting statistics, State did keep things close through the first half and into the middle of the second half. It was really a 15-2 run around the eight minute mark that pushed the Tar Heels over the hump to where they could coast the rest of the way home. All of this was with Armando Bacot and Jalen Washington being limited in minutes because of foul trouble. Bacot played just 23 minutes, and Washington just 11 before fouling out.
As has been the case so much of this season, RJ Davis really carried the Heels offensively. His 16 points led all scorers, and he made four of his three-pointers. Elliot Cadeau was the only other player to make it to double figures with 11 points and six assists. It was one of the freshman’s better games of the season so far. Harrison Ingram and Bacot finished with nine points each. Although he fell just short of double figures, Ingram was everywhere on the court when it came to grabbing boards. He had an eye-popping 19 rebounds to help UNC win the battle on the boards, 49-42.
The win gives UNC sole possession of first place in the ACC at 4-0. It concludes a very challenging three-game roadtrip to start 2024 as well. The fact that they were able to pick up wins in Pittsburgh, Clemson, and Raleigh is very impressive. It’s especially impressive in a week where teams ranked in the top five have been dropping like flies to unranked opponents. There are challenges ahead, for sure, but Carolina has made it to this point by slaying some very difficult opponents. They have proven themselves as much as anyone could ask for.
UNC is back in action on Saturday against Syracuse in Chapel Hill.