Tar Heels use second-half rally to escape upset bid by Notre Dame
The North Carolina Tar Heels kept their (slim) NCAA Tournament hopes alive on Wednesday night in South Bend.
After trailing by eight in what was a historically bad first half for the Tar Heels, UNC rallied in the second half thanks to the play of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love to beat Notre Dame 63-59.
But for the most part, it was an uneasy feeling for UNC fans in attendance and watching. They almost saw the final nail in the coffin for UNC’s tournament hopes after the team shot 15.8% from the field in the first half, going 5-of-28 from the field and trailing 27-19.
The Tar Heels quickly erased that halftime lead.
UNC opened the second half on a 13-2 run to grab a 34-31 lead. They did so with tenacity on the defensive end and by attacking the rim offensively, something we’ve rarely seen them do all season.
They also played through Bacot who was doubled most of the game. The senior found a way to get it done and came up with a big bucket late off of a Pete Nance miss to give UNC a 57-54 lead. After Notre Dame answered with a quick bucket, R.J. Davis hit a mid-range jump shot with 52 seconds left to extend the lead to 59-56.
RJ DAVIS!!!! 🤌@UNC_Basketball | #ACCMBB
📺 ESPN pic.twitter.com/oa4Ak3rwwp
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) February 23, 2023
Caleb Love made four free throws late to seal the win and move UNC to 9-8 in conference play.
Love and Bacot both finished the game with 16 points each. R.J. Davis had 13 and Pete Nance had 11 for the Tar Heels.
UNC took advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Fighting Irish 52-33 including Bacot, Nance and Leaky Black all having 11 rebounds each. The Tar Heels also grabbed 23 offensive rebounds to get second chances on that end.
The win is huge for the Tar Heels as they stay alive. But they have more work to do. They will host Virginia on Saturday afternoon in another Quad 1 opportunity.
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