By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — Second-half Caleb Love scoring surges were magical last season, and he shot top-ranked Carolina out of a funk on Friday night before Armando Bacot came out of his.
Love scored seven of his 25 points in the first 2½ minutes of the second half to jump-start the Tar Heels on the offensive end. They shook off trailing by seven after a flat first half with 59 second-half points in a 102–86 victory over hot-shooting College of Charleston.
Love said he was ready to do whatever he could to help the team as the second half started.
“He just wanted me to go downhill,” Love said of Coach Hubert Davis’ halftime instructions. “He doesn’t think anybody can guard me when I’m going downhill. So, I feel like when I do that, I’m unstoppable.”
But it was his defense that also picked up in the second half. That came after Cougars guard Dalton Bolon scored 12 of his 16 points off of Love in the first half.
Love had plenty of motivation after Coach Davis also called him soft at halftime because of his poor defensive effort. Love said it was probably the second time one of his UNC coaches has called him soft.
“I just took it on the chin. I don’t think I was soft, but he was getting whatever he wanted. So, I took it personal and tried to stop whoever I was guarding,” Love said.
But Coach Davis said that the entire team was soft in the first half.
“They all were [soft],” Davis said. “I challenged all of them. My generation, somebody calls you soft, it’s real. And it’s real. But they were; they were were soft in the first half. We were soft at parts against UNC Wilmington. There is a physicality that has to be brought all the time.”
Once Love got UNC (2–0) going, Bacot came to life after being no factor in the first half. The senior center finished with 28 points and six rebounds after he could muster only one of each and got off one shot in the first half. Bacot, who notched his 17th career game of at least 20 points, also had three steals.
“Really, these games shouldn’t be getting like this,” Bacot said. “We know we’re a lot better than what we put out there. As the No. 1 team, you’ve got to go out and knock out teams early.”
Bacot wasn’t happy with his first-half performance and took it out on the Cougars after halftime.
“I should be the dominating,” Bacot said. “I think I’m the best player in the country and haven’t been putting out that product so far, so I’ve just got to get a lot better. I’m going to keep working, and I’m not going to quit, and keep going back to my basics of doing what got me here.”
Leaky Black scored 10 of his 15 points and both 3-pointers in the first half. RJ Davis scored 11.
Coach Hubert Davis only played six players more than eight minutes and stuck with his starters for the last 8:28 of the game.
Charleston (1–1) stayed in the game so long by dominating its offensive boards and getting too many second chances.
UNC jumped ahead 11–6 but trailed the rest of the first half after an 8–0 Charleston run. The Cougars pushed their lead to eight on a Reyne Smith 3-pointer with 8:36 left. UNC sliced the lead to a point on Black’s second 3-pointer of the first half with 5:44 left, but CofC finished the half making 17 of its last 21 shots and an ending 10–4 run.
The Cougars (1–1) outscored the Heels 50–43 in the first half when Bacot and Pete Nance combined for four points.
RJ Davis said the coaches told the team that they had to come out after halftime being the aggressor.
“We wanted to go at them in the paint,” Davis said. “They couldn’t stop the movement of the ball, Mondo was able to go downhill and Caleb as well got downhill. It kind of opens options for 3, and once we penetrate and kick, that was great for us.”
Coach Davis said there are three boxes his team always should check: playing good defense (which he said was lacking in the first half), rebounding (which he said his team hasn’t done in the first two games and that will “get fixed”) and taking care of the basketball.
“That’s something that needs to change and will change,” Davis said of efficiency in those three areas.
Davis said that his team has to grow, get more mature and forget about the burden of being the No. 1 team.
“One of the things that I have sense in them, and I just felt not a nervousness but maybe a little a bit of a burden of the expectations,” he said. “I tried to get them to understand that those expectations are noise that means nothing.
“And I felt like every play, they were trying to make it look like the way we looked in April,” he said. “That’s just not possible. That just can’t happen. This is this year’s team. So let’s just be committed to showing up every day at practice. Let’s prepare. Let’s see how good we can become and, at the end of the day, let’s live with the results.”
Carolina took control with a 16–6 run to start the second half to lead for the first time since 14:20 remained in the first half. UNC finally started to pull away, with a Seth Trimble layup off a Love pass capping a 7–0 run to lead by six.
Carolina outscored CofC 12–5 during a key stretch with Trimble, Love and Davis on the floor.
Ante Brzovic had 15 points and Pat Robinson III 14, both off the bench, for Charleston.
NOTES — Carolina’s home game Tuesday against Gardner-Webb starts at 8 p.m. because it’s the second game of an ACC Network doubleheader, following the 6 p.m. Appalachian State at Louisville game. The Bulldogs, 18–13 last season, are 0–2 after two road losses: 65–63 on Monday to Colorado State and 86–71 Thursday to Stephen F. Austin. … Carolina is 16–0 when Love scores at least 20 points. … Both teams shot well, with UNC hitting 60.4% of its shots and Charleston 49.3%. … UNC shot 71.4% in the second half, topped only in the Hubert Davis era by the 74.2% first half shooting against Florida State last season. … Carolina is 208–2 all-time when it scores 100 points. … UNC’s 27 made free-throw attempts equaled last season’s seaon-high against Elon. … UNC blocked eight shots, three by Nance. … Junior Puff Johnson (sore knee) and freshman Jalen Washington (rehabbing high school knee injury) were out for the second consecutive game. … Lennie Rosenbluth, legendary star of the 1957 national championship team, was honored at halftime. At the ceremony were his wife Diane Rosenbluth, his son Steve Rosenbluth and his daughter Beth Webster. In addition, teammates on the 1957 team Tommy Kearns and Joe Quigg were there. … UNC is 190–31 as the top-ranked team and 7–3 against College of Charleston.
No. 1 UNC 102, Charleston 86
UNC lineup combinations
UNC season statistics
|28||Friday||W, 101–40||Johnson C. Smith||Home||Exhibition|
|11||Friday||W, 102–86||College of Charleston||Home||2–0|
|20||Sunday||W, 80–64||James Madison||Home||4–0|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|24||Thursday||W, 89–81||First round: Portland||Portland||5–0|
|27||Sunday||L, 103–101, |
No. 1 Alabama
|ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|30||Wednesday||L, 77–65||No. 21 Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||5–3|
|4||Sunday||L, 80–72||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||5–4, |
|10||Saturday||W, 75–59||Georgia Tech||Home||6–4, |
|13||Tuesday||W, 100–67||The Citadel||Home||7–4|
|CBS Sports Classic|
|17||Saturday||W, 89–84, OT||Ohio State||New York||8–4|
|30||Friday||L, 76–74||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||9–5, |
|4||Wednesday||W, 88–79||Wake Forest||Home||10–5, |
|7||Saturday||W, 81–64||Notre Dame||Home||11–5, |
|10||Tuesday||L, 65–58||No. 14 Virginia||Charlottesville||11–6, |
|14||Saturday||W, 80–59||Louisville||Louisville, Ky.||12–6, |
|17||Tuesday||W, 72–64||Boston College||Home||13–6, |
|21||Saturday||W, 80–69||N.C. State||Home||14–6, |
|24||Tuesday||W, 72–68||Syracuse||Syracuse, N.Y.||15–6, |
|1||Wednesday||L, 65–64||Pittsburgh||Home||15–7, |
|4||Saturday||L, 63–57||No. 12 Duke||Durham||15–8, |
|7||Tuesday||L, 92–85||Wake Forest||Winston-Salem||15–9, |
|11||Saturday||W, 91–71||Clemson||Home|| 16–9, |
|13||Monday||L, 80–72||No. 16 Miami||Home||16–10, |
|19||Sunday||L, 77–69||N.C. State||Raleigh||16–11, |
|22||Wednesday||W, 63–59||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||17–11, |
|25||Saturday||W, 71–63||No. 14 Virginia||Home||18–11, |
|27||Monday||W, 77–66||Florida State||Tallahassee, Fla.||19–11, |
|4||Saturday||L, 62–57||No. 12 Duke||Home||19–12,|
|8||Wednesday||W, 85–61||Boston College||Greensboro||20–12|
|9||Thursday||L, 68–59||No. 14 Virginia||Greensboro||20–13|
Photo via @UNC_Basketball