By R.L. Bynum
It took four overtimes and plenty of craziness, but Alabama finally won an epic endurance test for both teams with the help of controversy in a heartbreaker for Carolina.
A goaltending call on a Caleb Love drive that could have won the game with 8.9 seconds left was reversed. RJ Davis missed a desperation shot at the buzzer as the No. 18 Crimson Tide took a 103–101 four-overtime victory Sunday in the Phil Knight Invitational consolation game at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore.
UNC Coach Hubert Davis said that he was simply told that it wasn’t goaltending.
“I mean, it didn’t go our way, so, after that, we just had to deal with it,” Davis said of the reversal. “So, right after that, we had a chance to take the ball out of bounds with eight seconds ago, and be able to win the game.”
The first four-overtime UNC game since 1976 left the Tar Heels 5–2 with two consecutive losses one day before they fall from the top ranking they’ve held since the preseason AP Top 25.
“At the end of the day, Alabama made one more extra play than we did, and that’s why they won,” Davis said. “But I’m very, very proud of our guys. I’m so honored and privileged to be their head coach.”
All the Tar Heels were exhausted at the end, as three starters played more than 51 minutes.
Love scored 34 points in 58 minutes, both career-highs, and tied his career-high with nine rebounds but was only 3 of 11 from 3-point range. The 57 minutes for Love, who took an eye-popping 36 shots, were one off the school record that Phil Ford set with 58 minutes in 1976 during Carolina’s four-overtime 113–106 victory at Tulane on Feb. 14, 1976. It was the longest Carolina game since that contest more than 46 years ago.
“It’s a learning experience for us, and sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Coach Davis said. “And I told them when things don’t go your way, you have a choice. You can stay down, you can whine, you can complain, you can make excuses, you could talk about one call, or you get back up and compete and fight. And that’s what my hope and my expectation is for our guys.”
Armando Bacot put up another double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds; the 52nd of his career) but was limping and appeared to be dealing with an ankle injury after regulation. RJ Davis collected 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 51 minutes.
Love, RJ Davis, Bacot and Nance all had four fouls, but somehow none fouled out.
Leaky Black, who made a huge 3-pointer to give UNC a brief lead with 1:34 remaining, collected 10 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
With Pete Nance on the bench in foul trouble much of the second half, Puff Johnson played a career-high 48 minutes, including the last nearly 38 minutes, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Before Sunday, Johnson had never played more than 29 minutes in a game.
Mark Sears scored 24 points and seven 3-pointers, and Jahvo Quinerly added 21 points and three 3-pointers to lead the Tide (6–2).
RJ Davis scored seven consecutive points to start a 9–0 run that rallied UNC from an early five-point deficit. The Tar Heels forced five turnovers during those three minutes to take a four-point lead.
Alabama went up by five again as Sears scored five points during a 16–7 run, and held a 37–34 lead at halftime after foul trouble limited Bacot and Nance to 11 minutes each. Justin McKoy played a little more than a minute, and Johnson more than two minutes at the five spot.
Black held Brandon Miller, the nation’s leading scorer among freshmen, scoreless in the first half, but he scored five in an early second-half 7–0 Alabama run after UNC had tied it. He soon went to the bench, though, with four fouls.
Bacot responded with back-to-back 3-point plays off inside moves to start a 27–12 run to give UNC a 63–55 lead with 9:30 left. However, three-pointers from Sears and Noah Gurley capped a 13–3 Alabama run to tie it at 71 with 4:51 remaining.
Gurley gave the Tide a 76–75 lead on two free throws with 1:40 left in regulation. A short Davis jumper 12 seconds later put UNC up by one, but Sears split a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left to tie it, and they were tied at 77 after regulation.
Johnson jumped to the floor for a loose ball in a tie game with 31 seconds left, but Love missed a step-back 3-point attempt with three seconds left as the teams went to a second overtime tied at 81.
Jaden Bradley’s layup with 2:20 left in the second overtime put Alabama up by four, but layups from Johnson and Love tied it at 89 with 1:08 left.
Love got called with charging with 28 seconds left, and Nance forced the third overtime when he swatted the ball away from Quinerly from behind, when he was driving for a potential game-winning shot with two seconds left.
Layups from Love, RJ Davis and Pete Nance seized the lead early in the third overtime, but Quinerly tied it on two free throws with 28.1 seconds left. After Alabama threw away an inbounds pass with three seconds left, Love missed a desperation shot, and it was tied at 96 heading to the fourth overtime.
NOTES — Carolina travels to Bloomington, Ind., on Monday and plays at No. 11 Indiana at 9:15 Wednesday night (ESPN) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Hoosiers (6–0) haven’t played a ranked team, beating Morehead State 88–53, Bethune-Cookman 101–49, Xavier 81–79, Miami of Ohio 86–56, Little Rock 87–68 and, on Friday, Jackson State 90–51. … The Tar Heels hadn’t played three overtimes since a 119–114 loss to Wake Forest on Dec. 20, 2003. … Carolina is 8–5 against Alabama and had its three-game win streak snapped, which started with a 95–79 victory under Coach Dean Smith in 1990. … UNC is 9–3 all-time in Oregon and 7–2 in Veterans Memorial Coliseum. … UNC is now 8-3 all-time in games when both teams score 100 points.
No. 18 Alabama 103,
No. 1 UNC 101, 4 OTs
UNC lineup combinations
Phil Knight Invitational
Thursday’s first-round results
No. 1 North Carolina 89, Portland 81
Iowa State 81, Villanova 79, OT
No. 20 Connecticut 83, Oregon 59
No. 18 Alabama 81, No. 12 Michigan State 70
Iowa State 70, No. 1 North Carolina 65
No. 20 Connecticut 82, No. 18 Alabama 67
Portland 83, Villanova 71
No. 12 Michigan State 74, Oregon 70
Consolation: No. 18 Alabama 103, No. 1 North Carolina 101, 4 OTs
Seventh-place game: Oregon 74, Villanova 67
Fifth-place game: No. 12 Michigan State 78, Portland 77
Championship: No. 20 Connecticut 71, Iowa State 53
|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. 3 Alabama
|ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|30||Wednesday||L, 77–65||No. 18 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. 8 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||No. 22 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||Duke||Durham||15–8, |
|7||Tuesday||7 p.m.||Wake Forest||Winston-Salem||ESPN|
|13||Monday||7 p.m.||No. 19 Miami||Home||ESPN|
|19||Sunday||1 p.m.||No. 22 N.C. State||Raleigh||ESPN|
|22||Wednesday||9 p.m.||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||ESPN or ESPN2|
|25||Saturday||6 or 8||No. 8 Virginia||Home||ESPN|
|27||Monday||7 p.m.||Florida State||Tallahassee, Fla.||ESPN|
ACCN means the game airs on ACC Network.
Photo via @UNC_Basketball