Good, Bad and Ugly Report: N.C. State

By Doc Kennedy

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

In desperate need of a Quad 1 win, UNC builds a second-half lead only to fall apart down the stretch and fumble away yet another opportunity for a quality win in a season where opportunities are quickly running out. For the sixth time in nine Quad 1 games this season, the Tar Heels led in the final 20 minutes and, for the sixth time, Carolina was unable to finish the game and hold on for a victory.

The game swung midway through the second half when Carolina had three chances to stretch a six-point lead. R.J. Davis hit his only 3-pointer of the game to put the Heels up by their largest margin. But Caleb Love missed a layup and Armando Bacot picked up a rebound foul.

After a quick shot by Terquavion Smith, UNC again blew a transition opportunity with a Puff Johnson turnover, and after State’s first turnover of the game (at the 9:25 mark of the 2nd half!), Davis missed a jumper. UNC then went ice cold, making only one field-goal attempt in almost seven minutes while the Pack went on a 21–6 run and made 10 consecutive shots during that stretch.

With the loss, Carolina has lost five times in the last six games, all but erasing a 6–1 January where the only loss was at Virginia without Bacot. UNC is firmly on the wrong side of the bubble with time running out.

With that in mind, here is the running-out-of-chances edition of the Good, Bad, and Ugly Report:


Caleb Love

Part of the Caleb Love Experience™ is that the highs are high and the lows are low, and Love takes more of the blame than he probably should. Love scored a team-high 23 points on a respectable 7 of 17 shooting, including 4 of 8 from 3.

Armando Bacot

The senior big man recorded the 66th double-double of his career with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He wasn’t particularly sharp but, as he has dealt with all season, he can’t pass himself the basketball.


RJ Davis

Poor RJ just hasn’t been the same since the Syracuse game where he aggravated his injuries. Davis played all 40 minutes and was only 2 of 13 from the field. When he was playing well in January, the Heels were playing well. Now, not so much.


UNC had 13 turnovers, but those turnovers were costly, as the Pack scored 16 points off those miscues.




This has been a factor all season, but UNC’s transition numbers just don’t add up as the Heels have struggled to score off the break. Carolina outrebounded State 48–34 but the Heels were outscored 25–7 in transition points.

3-point shooting

Sometimes it is as simple as putting the ball in the basket. UNC came into the game ranked 325th out of 352 Division I teams in 3-point shooting percentage at 30.6%, and yet Sunday’s 31.8% effort is above their season average (helped out by two Love makes in garbage time). Bryan Ives (@awaytoworthy) notes that UNC is 10-1 in games where it shoots 32% from three or better (and the one loss was at UVa where Bacot was hurt). The Heels don’t need to shoot great to be successful, or even shoot well. Just being slightly below average would be good enough.

With Sunday’s loss, while Carolina’s NCAA hopes aren’t quite dead, they are hanging on by a thread. UNC will host a Quad 1 game at home next weekend vs. Virginia and have a chance to pick up another quality win vs. Duke at home, while traveling to a Notre Dame team that has lost five straight but the last four by a combined 12 points. Carolina is likely going to have to win out in the regular season (including a game at Tallahassee vs. Florida State) and win two in the ACC Tournament to crawl back into bubble contention and, even then, will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

Doc Kennedy is an alum and longtime UNC fan, and a former high school and college basketball coach who wrote this report for years on Tar Heel Blog.

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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