By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — During Carolina’s pregame warmups, The Bangles’ “Manic Monday” played in the Smith Center. It wasn’t Brady Manek’s favored country music but was appropriate for his senior night and might just be profitable as well.
He made it a Manek Monday with 12 of his team-high 22 points after halftime as UNC overcame big Syracuse runs to start each half and battled for an important 88–79 overtime victory over Syracuse.
Manek, who showed off his excellent passing skills with three assists, loves the wordplay so much that he sells “Manek Monday” T-shirts and caps as part of an NIL deal.
Manek’s inside bucket to start overtime gave UNC the lead for good before 3-pointers by Caleb Love (who scored eight of his 21 points in overtime) and RJ Davis (17 points, five 3-pointers) helped Carolina (22–8, 14–5 ACC) pull away.
UNC was 5 of 6 from the floor, 2 of 3 from 3-point range and made all three free-throw attempts in overtime while Syracuse went 1 of 7.
“I wanted to win it for my team,” said Love, who scored four 3-pointers. “It’s going into March and we’re getting closer and closer to win or go home. These moments are preparing us for those type of games. I’m not worried about what my stats are or anything else. I want to get the win, whatever my team needs me to do and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Love once again showed the ability to shake off shooting struggles to make huge, clutch shots at the end of games, including a mammoth 3 late in regulation. He was 2 of 15 from the floor before making his last four shots.
“One of the things I love about Caleb is that he can move on to the next play, next shot, next possession,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said of his resilience after a turnover or a lapse on defense. “He has complete confidence in being able to step up and make shots. There are few guys that are willing to take those shots in those types of situations and that’s one of the many things I love about Caleb.”
Carolina’s fourth consecutive victory earned a double-bye in next week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, which is essential for a Tar Heels team that basically played six players Monday. It gives the Tar Heels momentum heading into Saturday’s much-hyped 6 p.m. visit to Duke for Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last home game (ESPN).
Monday was memorable for Manek and fellow senior Leaky Black, who collected seven points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Black held Buddy Boeheim to 14 points and defended the red-hot Cole Swider late.
“I wanted him to be as uncomfortable as possible,” Black said of Boeheim. He said his right knee felt fine without any swelling.
UNC was hot from 3-point range and used good ball movement most of the night to get open shots against Syracuse’s vaunted 2–3 zone. The Tar Heels’ 14 3-pointers were the second-most this season.
Armando Bacot collected 17 points and 18 rebounds for his 23rd double-double to tie Brice Johnson (2015–16) for the single-season program record.
“He’s been huge for us,” Bacot said of Manek, suggesting that he brings a dynamic to UNC that has not been seen since Luke Maye. “I wish we could have him for a lot more years. What he’s done for us in this one year? He’s been so unselfish. He’s a team guy. Also, the way he shoots the ball, he brings a different dynamic to the team.”
Most double-doubles by Tar Heel in season
23 Armando Bacot, 2021–22
23 Brice Johnson, 2015–16
22 Billy Cunningham, 1963–64
21 Antawn Jamison, 1997–98
Most double-figure rebound games by a Tar Heel in a season
24 Armando Bacot, 2021–22
23 Brice Johnson, 2015–16
22 Billy Cunningham, 1963–64
Bacot battled against a tough Syracuse defense that made his shots difficult to get.
“They did a good job of trying to shrink the hole when I caught the ball kind of down low,” Bacot said. “So, I just had to really get it off the offensive glass and just find a way to impact the game.”
Syracuse scored the game’s first nine points before an RJ Davis 3-pointer. The Orange made their first six shots, and led 15–8 at the first TV timeout. UNC rallied back with five more 3-pointers to tie it at 24 on a Puff Johnson free throw with 9:25 left in the first half.
Carolina finally got its first lead of the game on (what else?) a Davis 3-pointer. Two Manek dunks made it 33–28, prompting an Orange timeout with 3:54 remaining. That didn’t stop Carolina’s run that became 9–0 on a Bacot slam before the Orange ended a nearly three-minute scoring drought.
Swider, a Villanova transfer, already had a career-high 21 points by halftime for Syracuse (and finished with 36), but UNC had a 41–36 lead.
Syracuse (15–15, 9–10) jumped back ahead with a 10–1 run before the first second-half TV timeout. But Bacot tied it at 56 on a transition slam for a 3-point play with 9:26 left.
Love’s 3-pointer gave UNC a one-point lead with 2:23 left in regulation but Syracuse retook the lead on a Bourama Sidibe bucket with 1:13 left.
Love’s 3 with eight seconds left was countered by Joseph Girard’s bucket six seconds later to force overtime.
UNC 88, Syracuse 79, OT
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. 8 Purdue|
|21||89–72 loss, 3–2||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 13 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 ACC||Home||Elon|
|14||74–61 win, 8–2 ACC||Home||Furman|
|18||98–69 loss, 8–3 ACC||Las Vegas||Z — No. 7 Kentucky|
|21||70–50 win, 9–3 ACC||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|
|February (7–2, 7–2 ACC)|
|1||90–82 OT win, 16–6, 8–3 ACC||Road||Louisville|
|5||87–67 loss, 16–7, 8–4 ACC||Home||No. 4 Duke|
|8||79–77 win, 17–7, 9–4 ACC||Road||Clemson|
|12||94–74 win, 18–7, 10–4 ACC||Home||Florida State|
|16||76–67 loss, 18–8, 10–5 ACC||Home||Pittsburgh|
|19||65–57 win, 19–8, 11–5 ACC||Road||Virginia Tech|
|21||70–63 win, 20–8, 12–5 ACC||Home||Louisville|
|26||84–74 win, 21–8, 13–5 ACC||Road||N.C. State|
|28||88–79 OT win, 22–8, 14–5 ACC||Home||Syracuse|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Road||No. 4 Duke|
Photo via @UNC_Basketball