Tar Heels scorch NC State in hot-shooting night

UNC jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, beating the Wolfpack 100-80

UNC guard RJ Davis reacts following his basket against NC State during the Tar Heels' 100-80 win Saturday in Chapel Hill. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

CHAPEL HILL — UNC took away any drama early in Saturday’s game against NC State, jumping out to a big lead and cruising to a 100-80 win over the Wolfpack.

On a day when former coach Roy Williams was honored at halftime and Tar Heel legend Michael Jordan was on hand for a second-half ceremony honoring the 1982 national championship team, Carolina came out on a mission. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 19-7 lead and eventually led by as many as 28 in the first half before taking a 56-31 edge into the locker room.

While NC State has struggled to match up with teams in the post since losing big man Manny Bates to a season-ending injury early in the year, the Tar Heels scorched the Wolfpack from outside. Brady Manek hit 4 of 5 3-pointers in the first half and Caleb Love added 2 of 3 as the Tar Heels hit 10 of 15 from long range in the first 20 minutes. Six of the seven UNC players to see the court in the first half hit at least one 3 before halftime. In their previous game, against Boston College on Wednesday, UNC managed just eight made field goals — 2- and 3-pointers combined — in either half.

“We just caught fire early,” said Armando Bacot. “We’re hard to beat when we’re shooting the ball like that. It was a lot of fun seeing everybody hitting shots.”

“We came out, played together and played hard,” said Manek.

Carolina hit another five treys in the second half, and the lead grew to as many as 35. Walk-on Jackson Watkins hit a free throw in the final minute to put UNC into triple figures, the sixth time in history that the Tar Heels have reached at least 100 points against the Wolfpack.

The win also gave coach Hubert Davis a win in his first game against State in the lead chair. He is the sixth straight UNC coach to win his first game against the Pack, dating back to Frank McGuire.

The Heels now take a three-game win streak on the road to Louisville next week before another rival — Duke — comes to town on Saturday.

“Michael Jordan said we have to play with passion,” said Leaky Black. “He said, ‘When your coach has more passion than you do, that’s a recipe for disaster.’ Coach told us not to get fat and happy.”

Love finished with 21 points and five assists, while Manek added 17. Bacot had 18 points and 13 rebounds, scoring his 1,000th career point for the Tar Heels early in the second half. He also blocked a career-high six shots.

“It was just a special night for Carolina,” Bacot said.