NC State snaps skid against North Carolina

Freshman Shakeel Moore scored a career-high 17 points in the Wolfpack’s win

North Carolina State's Shakeel Moore (2) drives between North Carolina's Kerwin Walton, left, and Garrison Brooks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH — The NC State Wolfpack beat the North Carolina Tar Heels at home for the first time since 2013, 79-76, on Tuesday at PNC Arena.   

State snapped a five-game losing streak to UNC and a seven-game skid against the Tar Heels at PNC. The Wolfpack hit 8 of 17 from 3-point range and forced 18 UNC turnovers to beat the Tar Heels for the second time in 11 matchups and just the fifth time in the last 37.

State was saddled with foul trouble throughout the game. Devon Daniels was limited to eight minutes in the first half and Jericole Hellems managed just one point in a four-foul outing. The Wolfpack got a boost from an unlikely source, however. Guard Shakeel Moore, scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Moore hit his first three 3-point attempts in the first half as the Wolfpack built a 16-point lead before halftime.

Carolina struggled with shooting for much of the night. Caleb Love shot 3 of 14, missing all four 3-point attempts. The Tar Heels were just 2 of 12 from outside for the game. RJ Davis and Garrison Brooks both shot 5 of 14 on the night.

The win in the ACC opener for both teams moved NC State to 5-1 on the year, while UNC fell to 5-3.

Three thoughts

1. Roy Williams pointed to Carolina’s shot selection as a factor in the loss.

“You don’t want to single one or two guys out,” he said, then mentioned “3 of 14” and “5 of 14,” which were the shooting numbers for Love and Davis, UNC’s two freshmen guards.

In the final 2:19 with UNC looking to tie the game, Love and Davis combined to go 0-for-6. The rest of the team combined to put up one shot over that time. Earlier in the second half, another period of poor shot selection cost Carolina a chance to pull ahead.

“I thought we took two or three bad shots in a row after we got it to one (63-62),” Williams said. “You can’t do that.”

2. NC State returned from a brief shutdown due to COVID with a game against St. Louis last week. The Billikens beat the rusty Pack 80-69 in a game that frustrated State fans. One major reason Kevin Keatts scheduled that game coming out of quarantine was to prepare for the Tar Heels in the ACC opener.

“We don’t win this game if we don’t schedule the Saint Louis game,” he said.

3. With 6-foot-10 senior DJ Funderburk and 6-foot-11 freshman Ebenezer Dowuona still out due to COVID testing and tracing, 6-foot-11 Manny Bates was the lone big man facing Carolina’s front line of Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Day’ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. Bates stepped up, shooting 7- of 11 for 14 points with seven rebounds and five blocks.

“Manny was great,” Keatts said. “We knew he was going to have play against four guys who were 6-10 or better. But he did a tremendous job.”

Number to Know

2-5 — Keatts’ record against the Tar Heels since taking over as coach at NC State. That may not look particularly impressive, but the three coaches who preceded him were a combined 3-27.

They Said It

“This is UNC. We don’t celebrate moral victories.”

— UNC sophomore Armando Bacot on coming back from an early 16-point deficit

Player of the Game

Shakeel Moore, Wolfpack — The backup guard hit 6 of 11 from the field and 3 of 4 from three for 17 points. He also added two steals.

“He’s tough. He’ll fight you, he’ll claw at you. He’s super athletic, he’s super competitive.” Keatts said of Moore. “I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Critical thinking

North Carolina’s talent level is higher than last season’s team, but here’s a sobering thought: After eight games last year, the Tar Heels were 6-2, one game better than this year’s record.