Love rescues Heels as Bacot makes more history

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — It doesn’t seem to matter how much Caleb Love struggles with his shot; his determination to figure out how to win a game for Carolina stays strong, and he has a way of changing some games.

That happened again Tuesday night when he provided the needed spark after Boston College had cut the Tar Heels’ lead to one with six minutes left.

Love scored the next five points and drew a big charge call on Boston College’s Jaeden Zackery as UNC pulled away for a 72–64 victory Tuesday at the Smith Center.

“It was nice that, from an offensive standpoint, he made some shots down the stretch,” said UNC coach Hubert Davis, emphasizing that Love is a basketball player and can affect the game in many ways. “But, to me, I thought the biggest play of the game was the defensive charge he took.”

It wasn’t always pretty, and the Eagles (8–11, 2–6 ACC) hung around longer than expected, but with Pete Nance over his back issues, starting and making 3-pointers, the Tar Heels (13–6, 5–3) figured out a way, thanks to Love’s late spurt.

“Just trying to create that energy for the team and doing what’s best for the team,” Love said. “Just taking the charge, giving my body up for the team. I just want to make winning plays down the stretch and help my team win.”

Armando Bacot tied Billy Cunningham’s career program double-double record with his 60th, earning it in the first half for the second consecutive game on his way to 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“We’re not too concerned about the shooting slump right now,” RJ Davis, who scored 18 points and four 3-pointers, said of Love. “He’s taking great shots.”

And Love rescued the game when it was in peril for the Tar Heels.

After BC cut the lead to 56–55 on a Zackery layup at the end of an 8–0 run, Love had a strong response. He shoved the lead back to six with a step-back 3-pointer and a layup — after Zackery deflected Love’s pass back to him — before drawing the foul on Zackery. Love scored nine of his 16 points in the final 5½ minutes.

“We just got stops, and after we got a stop, we were able to score on the other end,” RJ Davis said. “There was a stretch where we were maybe up one and we were able to really key in on defense and that kind of led to our offense. I feel like once we were disciplined, and we’re good enough to do that, we’ve got to do it all the time from start to finish.”

Love ended a streak of 12 consecutive missed 3-point attempts, which started in the last minute of the Virginia game. There was much relief when that skid ended in the first minute of the second half on his fifth shot from outside the arc.

“It felt good; but it ain’t good enough. I went 2 for 10,” Love said of his shooting from outside the arc. “It is just a mental game because I put too much work in. It just ain’t falling now. It’s going come.”

Coach Davis said that he’s talked with Love about his shooting struggles.

“I talked to him [Monday]. And I talked to him through my own experience,” said Coach Davis, who remembered that his elbows came out a little bit when he struggled and how if he missed 10 attempts, he always thought he’d make the next two.

“When he was shooting the last couple of days, it just seemed just a smidge flat,” Davis said. “I just told him to just think about getting a little more arc. I told him about the importance of continuing to shoot and continuing to shoot good shots. And then I told him about making impact plays in different areas.”

Bacot looked to be nearly back to full health on another night of making history.

Bacot tied Cunningham’s 69-game total from 1962–65 in his 118th game. Only Cunningham (87.0%) and Lennie Rosenbluth (51.3%) have double-doubles in a higher percentage of their games than Bacot (50.8%).

“It means a lot,” Bacot said. “I guess I can credit Cole Anthony, Caleb Love and RJ for all the missed shots they shot so I guess I have to give them credit.”

He pushed his career point total to 1,616, passing Mitch Kupchak (1,611) and Coach Davis (1,615).

“He’s just not a normal player,” Coach Davis said of Bacot. “It’s hard to describe just how valuable and how great he is as as a player, as someone to coach. One of the things as a coaches that you really, really want is when you go to practice and you go to games, you want consistency .. .With Armando, there’s no guesswork. You know exactly what you’re gonna get every practice every game and what he’s doing, statistically, is just unbelievable.”

Bacot had that quickness to zip past defenders inside with one step that didn’t seem to be there against Louisville.

“I’ve been working every day just strengthening and strengthening my ankle, and I’m just feeling better and better every day and getting back to myself,” Bacot said.

Quinten Post, who had a bit of a dust up with Bacot, led BC with 17 points before fouling out.

“I joke a lot on the court, and I was just messing with him, and I guess he got a little mad. But it was all good,” said Bacot, who wouldn’t say what he told Post.


Nance scored a pair of 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, but was applying a heating pad on his back midway through the second half before returning to the game.

“I woke up [Tuesday] morning and didn’t feel anything, so I knew that today would kinda be a good day, just as far as the progression of it for me to get back out there,” said Nance, adding that it felt good and he had no issues. “It felt great, knock on wood. It felt good all night, and I was glad, obviously, that I didn’t tweak it again.”

A Leaky Black 3-pointer capped a 10–2 run to give the Heels an 18–10 lead. Carolina led by as many as nine points in the first half before taking a 31–26 halftime lead.

RJ Davis tried to pull Carolina away with 11 of the Tar Heels’ first 21 second-half points. He brought the house down with a corner 3-pointer after pump-faking a defender that brought the house down to push the lead to 10 four minutes after halftime.

“I saw the guy coming out of the corner of my eye, so felt like I had a better chance with me just side-stepping and having a better angle to shoot it,” Davis said. “When it went in, the crowd just went crazy.”

A couple of minutes later, he made another three after a slick crossover dribble.

Zackery added 14 points for the Eagles.

NOTES — Carolina is back at home at 5 p.m. Saturday to face N.C. State (14–4, 4–3), which won at Georgia Tech 78–66 Tuesday for its fourth consecutive victory. … Freshman Jalen Washington rolled his right ankle during a shootaround Tuesday afternoon and didn’t play. … Luke Maye drew huge cheers when shown on the video boards and identified as “Drake Maye’s brother.” Their father Mark was seated between the two, who were then identified as “Beau Maye’s brothers.” … Carolina has won three in a row against Boston College and 15 of the last 16, only losing 71–70 at home on Feb. 1, 2020. … The Tar Heels lead the series 21–6, including 18–5 since the Eagles joined the ACC. … Carolina didn’t allow a 3-pointer for the first time in 33 years, as BC missed all six attempts. Jacksonville on Nov. 27, 1990, was the last opponent to go without a 3-pointer, and that was 1,149 games ago. UNC won that game at the Smith Center 104–61. … Carolina scored 10 3-pointers, only the third time with double-digit 3s this season (15 against The Citadel and 11 vs. Portland). … Black had four steals to give him multiple steals for the sixth consecutive game.

Carolina 72, Boston College 64

UNC lineup combinations


No. 16 Miami15–524–6
No. 13 Virginia15–523–6
No. 25 Pittsburgh14–621–10
N.C. State12–822–9
North Carolina11–919–12
Wake Forest10–1018–13
Boston College9–1115–16
Virginia Tech8–1218–13
Florida State7–139–22
Georgia Tech6–1414–17
Notre Dame3–1711–20

Saturday’s games
Duke 62, North Carolina 57
No. 13 Virginia 75, Louisville 60
Georgia Tech 73, Boston College 65
Virginia Tech 82, Florida State 60
Syracuse 72, Wake Forest 63
No. 26 Miami 78, No. 25 Pittsburgh 76
Clemson 87, Notre Dame 64
End of regular season

UNC statistics

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 1 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 21 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 14 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57No. 12 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7TuesdayL, 92–85Wake ForestWinston-Salem15–9,
7–6 ACC
11SaturdayW, 91–71ClemsonHome 16–9,
8–6 ACC
13MondayL, 80–72No. 16 MiamiHome16–10,
8–7 ACC
19SundayL, 77–69N.C. StateRaleigh16–11,
8–8 ACC
22WednesdayW, 63–59Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.17–11,
9–8 ACC
25SaturdayW, 71–63No. 14 VirginiaHome18–11,
10–8 ACC
27MondayW, 77–66Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.19–11,
11–8 ACC
4SaturdayL, 62–57No. 12 DukeHome19–12,
11–9 ACC
ACC tournament
8WednesdayW, 85–61Boston CollegeGreensboro20–12
9ThursdayL, 68–59No. 14 Virginia Greensboro20–13

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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