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UNC improves to 6-0 in ACC play with win over Louisville

It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a win.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC looked very much like the #4 team in the country in the first half against Louisville on Wednesday, but the second half was a bit of a different story. The Cardinals cut the once-large Carolina lead down to as few as five before the Tar Heels ultimately pulled away to win 86-70.

The Tar Heels raced to a 46-29 halftime lead after they shot 50% from the field. They hit six of their three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. RJ Davis led all scorers with 21 points and six assists. Armando Bacot had 19 points and five assists himself. Jae’Lyn Withers (15), Cormac Ryan (14), and Harrison Ingram (10) also finished the game in double figures. Withers was very effective against his old team, scoring the most points he’s had this season and recording a double-double.

Louisville mounted a strong comeback in the second half with 60% shooting from the field. The number was only that low in the end because of a colder stretch toward the end when Carolina pulled away. The Cardinals did out-score the Tar Heels in the second half by one point.

Despite the fact that they found a way to make the game more nerve-wracking than it needed to be, UNC was a huge force on the boards. They out-rebounded Louisville 40-28 and doubled them up on the offensive boards 12-6. The Heels led the game by as many as 20 points in the first half and never trailed.

Hopefully this game will serve as a reminder that the Tar Heels cannot just expect every team they play to roll over for them. They managed to survive the onslaught from Louisville because of the huge lead they’d built up in the first half, but that will not always be a luxury they have to fall back on. So many other ranked teams fell victim to unranked teams in the last week, but it’s a sigh of relief that the Heels were able to avoid the same fate.

Carolina is back in action on Saturday when they travel to Chestnut Hill to face Boston College.