After the win over Duke over the weekend, this game had the potential to be a letdown trap game for North Carolina. Unfortunately, they did indeed fall into that trap. While Carolina fought hard after going down as many as 16 points in the first half, they eventually ran out of gas in the final couple minutes, taking an annoying 80-76 loss to Clemson.
However, the fact that UNC got as close as they did after being on the verge of getting blown out at points is a testament to this team still being better than previous years, even if this loss was still very annoying. A big reason the game wasn’t over after the first half was Armando Bacot.
Coming off the back of his excellent effort against Duke, Bacot again put up a big game, albeit this one in a losing effort. He finished as the Tar Heels’ leading scorer, going for 24 points on 7-13 shooting and 10-11 at the free throw line, in a game where others still had some issues at the charity stripe. He also added onto his career double-double total by grabbing 13 rebounds as well.
Bacot did a decent amount of his work in the first half, with many of the rest of his teammates off to slow starts. In the opening 20 minutes, he scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. That was nearly half of the point scored by UNC in the first half, and other than Bacot’s 4-7, the Heels shot just 25% before the break. At times, it looked like the game wasn’t going to be remotely close, as Clemson spent a decent chunk of the first half up double digits. Thanks to Bacot, UNC managed to stay somewhat in the game after that mess and made it a game in the second half.
In the second, Bacot added 10 more points, albeit that ended up not being quite enough. There are certainly mistakes he, and everyone else made. Clemson maybe got a few too many rebounds at points, and PJ Hall and the Clemson frontcourt had a pretty good day themselves, but we wouldn’t even be able to pick nits in this loss without Bacot.
While it wasn’t the most efficient night from him, RJ Davis was also a big part of nearly pulling off this comeback win. He scored 22 points on 7-22 shooting. Sixteen of those points and three three-pointers came in the second half as Carolina battled back into the game.
UNC will have to get back on the horse, as they have another decently tough test against Miami this weekend. If you can take anything good away from this quite annoying loss, it’s that Bacot appears to be playing better after going through a swoon at points this year.