UNC finds ‘energy, effort, passion’ leading to big second-half spurt

It was a must-win game for the UNC basketball program on Wednesday night at Notre Dame but the Tar Heels came out flat, disjointed and lethargic. That was until a big second-half spurt lifted UNC to a win.

The Tar Heels trailed 27-19 at halftime after the first 20 minutes resulted in zero assists, shooting 15.8 percent from the field and eight turnovers.

Then, it was a ‘heated’ halftime talk between teammates that flipped the script and changed the outlook in Wednesday’s game.

UNC would open the second half on a 15-4 run to take a three point lead, a lead that wouldn’t grow past three for either team for the remainder of the game until the final score, 63-59.

The Tar Heels’ spark to begin the second-half was led by RJ Davis. He had an assists on the first possession, followed up by a steal and fast break layup two possessions later, followed up by a steal just moments after. He then had a driving layup a few possessions later to give UNC a 32-31 lead.

“Well it was great,” Head coach Hubert Davis said of RJ’s spurt out of halftime. “That’s all we talked about at halftime. It was a heated discussion at halftime with them. By the time it was almost the 16-minute mark, it was a one-point game. So it was a great example to them, what can happen when you play with sustained effort and energy and passion out there.”

UNC scored just .594 points per possession in the first half and turned it over on 25 percent of its possessions. In the second half, those numbers were at 1.517 points per possession and just a 3.4 turnover percentage.

So, what changed? What Hubert Davis has always preached from game to game; playing with energy, effort and passion.

“We played harder. Energy, effort, passion,” Davis said. “bviously, we rebounded the ball extremely well. I thought defensively we were really good. I thought in the second half we took care of the basketball.

“To get technical in terms of basketball — if you don’t get the energy, effort, and passion part, you can’t get to that. That doesn’t make it. So until you check that box, then you can get to the technical part. The first half, we coached effort and passion. And in the second half, we coached basketball.”

Armando Bacot had a 16-point and 11-rebound double double, while Caleb Love had 16 points as well. RJ Davis added 12 points and Pete Nance had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The Tar Heels now turn their attention to No. 6 Virginia in Chapel Hill on Saturday — a massive game with the potential to give UNC that desperate signature win it so desires.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire