By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — As much as the Hall of Fame coach loves beating N.C. State, there was no way that Carolina wasn’t going to take it to the Wolfpack on Roy Williams Day.
But leading by a frickin’ margin of 35 points in the second half?
The Tar Heels (15–6, 7–3 ACC) made it a rout with their best first half of the season and coasted to 100–80 victory Saturday at the Smith Center. They put it all together with a season-high 15 3-pointers to win their third consecutive game.
“Let’s beat these guys in red a helluva lot more,” Williams said at halftime, when a banner was raised in the Smith Center rafters to honor him. That will be common if the Tar Heels can play as well and are as good from 3-point range (15 of 27) and the free-throw line (17 of 24) as they were on Saturday.
“My hope is that it carries over and my hope is that it builds,” said UNC coach Hubert Davis, whose team had a season-high 25 fast-break points. said. “I was really emotional after the game today. And I was emotional because I was just proud of the guys.”
Davis liked the way his team responded after he said they “got a lot of heat” after the losses to Miami and Wake Forest. His message before the three home wins this week seemed to resonate with the team.
“I told them that we have to stick together, we have to be positive, we have to be enthusiastic and, more importantly, we have to do this together,” Davis said. “For us to play the way that we did is just an example of perseverance, an example of fight.”
Caleb Love scored 21 points and four 3-pointers and had five assists. Armando Bacot added 18 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high-tying six blocks, with Brady Manek (five 3-pointers) and RJ Davis (three 3s) each scoring 17.
Bacot eclipsed the 1,000 career points mark during the game. He is the 79th Tar Heel to do that, which is an NCAA record.
“I would definitely say it’s one of the most fun games, just us beating a solid team in N.C. State,” said Bacot, who got his 16th double-double of the season and 34th of his career. “The crowd, I mean it was sold out and it was just packed and fun and everybody was playing good. We shared the ball. All of the alums coming back, seeing the championship team and then them honoring Coach Williams? I talked to him after the game. It was all just great and it was special.”
Manek didn’t likely experience anything like this during his four seasons at Oklahoma. The presence of Michael Jordan and his teammates on the 1982 national championship team made it special for Manek.
“That’s an unreal experience,” said Manek, who scored at least five 3-pointers for the 12th time in his career. “It’s definitely one of the reasons to pull me here was for a game like that. And with Michael being here, it makes it 30 times better. That’s awesome. That’s unbelievable. That was a really fun game. We had a really, really good time out there and we all played really well.”
Jordan spoke to the team before the game after an impassioned speech from Hubert Davis.
“Pretty much he was just telling us when our coach has more passion than we do, that we’re out there playing with, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Leaky Black said of Jordan. “So he was just telling us just to feed off the energy, play with emotion and have fun.”
Dereon Seabron came into the game as N.C. State’s most dangerous scorer, averaging 19 points per game. His season-low was 10 points before he was held to two Saturday on 1 of 6 shooting, mostly because of Black’s defense. He only played four second-half minutes.
Coach Davis was upset about UNC’s defense in the second half against Boston College and “came in hot” with a message to the team, showing them 13 clips on Thursday from that half to show the team why he was mad.
“I said, ‘This is why I was upset,’ ” Davis said. “And I said I was upset because we weren’t playing defense as a team in the second half against Boston College. But I said the bigger picture is that this won’t work against N.C. State. They’re too good.”
His team clearly heard and acted on his message.
“Our help defense was great. I can’t remember how many blocks that we had from our weak-side defenders,” Davis said. “Our help-side defenders came over and boxed out. Our togetherness defensively was the best part today.”
Terquavion Smith (34 points) and Jericole Hellems (25) provided practically the only positives for the Wolfpack (10–12, 3–8).
Love scored nine points on a pair of 3-pointers and a three-point play as UNC jumped out to a 19–7 lead in the first 5½ minutes. The Tar Heels used a 14–4 run to take a 37–17 lead with 7:02 left on a Puff Johnson layup.
“As a team, we were all sharing the ball,” Love said. “When we share the ball and we get open looks for all of our teammates? That’s our best basketball when we share the ball and we’re knocking down shots.”
The rout was quickly on as UNC doubled the score on State with a minute left in the first half before taking a 56–31 lead behind a season-high 62.5% shooting for the half. That topped the 59.3% in the second half at Boston College.
After scoring only 16 field goals Wednesday against the Eagles, Carolina already had 20 by halftime.
The 15 3-pointers equaled the seventh-most in any game all-time by UNC and was the most since notching 16 at Wake Forest in 2019.
Even with the huge margin, a third reserve didn’t play for the Tar Heels until Dontrez Styles entered the game with 6:28 left and a 28-point lead. Styles had six points and four rebounds in just over five minutes.
The Tar Heels get two days off before visiting Louisville at 8 p.m. Tuesday (ACC Network) before welcoming No. 9 Duke to the Smith Center next Saturday.
The Cardinals (11–10, 5–6) lost Saturday to Duke 74–65 in their first game since the school fired Chris Mack as coach and elevated Kenny Payne as interim coach. Louisville has lost three consecutive games and six of its last seven.
UNC 100, N.C. State 80
UNC season statistics
day, time, TV
|5||83–55 exhibition win||Home||Elizabeth City State|
|9||83–67 win, 1–0||Home||Loyola Maryland|
|12||94–87 win, 2–0||Home||Brown|
|16||94–83 win, 3–0||Road||College of Charleston|
|20||93–84 loss, 3–1||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 6 Purdue|
|21||89–72 loss, 3–2||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 18 Tennessee|
|23||72–53 win, 4–2||Home||UNC Asheville|
|December (5–1, 1-0 ACC)|
|1||72–51 win, 5–2||Home||X — Michigan|
|5||79–62 win, 6–2, 1-0 ACC||Road||Georgia Tech|
|11||80–63 win, 7–2||Home||Elon|
|14||74–61 win, 8–2||Home||Furman|
|18||98–69 loss, 8–3||Las Vegas||Z — No. 12 Kentucky|
|21||70–50 win, 9–3||Home||Appalachian State|
|January (6–3, 6–3 ACC)|
|2||91–65 win, 10–3, 2-0 ACC||Road||Boston College|
|5||78–73 loss, 10–4, 2-1 ACC||Road||Notre Dame|
|8||74–58 win, 11–4, 3–1 ACC||Home||Virginia|
|15||88–65 win, 12–4, 4–1 ACC||Home||Georgia Tech|
|18||85–57 loss, 12–5, 4–2 ACC||Road||Miami|
|22||98–76 loss, 12–6, 4–3 ACC||Road||Wake Forest|
|24||78–68 win, 13–6, 5–3 ACC||Home||Virginia Tech|
|26||58–47 win, 14–6, 6–3 ACC||Home||Boston College|
|29||100–80 win, 15–6, 7–3 ACC||Home||N.C. State|
|1||Tuesday, 8, ACC Network||Road||Louisville|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Home||No. 9 Duke|
|8||Tuesday, 6, ACCN||Road||Clemson|
|12||Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2||Home||Florida State|
|16||Wednesday, 8, ACCN||Home||Pittsburgh|
|19||Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||Virginia Tech|
|21||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Louisville|
|26||Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||N.C. State|
|28||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Syracuse|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Road||No. 9 Duke|
Photo via @UNC_Basketball