NEW YORK — Down two with under 2 second left, UNC assistant Jeff Lebo drew up a play the Tar Heels hadn’t even run in practice — and it worked perfectly.
Pete Nance made a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to force overtime, RJ Davis iced a much-needed victory for scuffling UNC with two late free throws, and the Tar Heels beat No. 23 Ohio State 89-84 on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.
“That’s one of my go-to shots,” said Nance, a graduate transfer from Northwestern. “If I could pick two or three shots I had saved my life with it’d probably be that fadeaway. Been working on it kind of all my life. It was definitely a comfortable shot for me.”
Armando Bacot had 28 points and 15 rebounds and Caleb Love scored 22 for UNC (8-4). The Tar Heels are trying to right themselves after a four-game losing streak — all away from home — knocked the preseason No. 1 team out of the Top 25 two weeks ago.
They have now won three straight, none bigger than this one against the Buckeyes (7-3) at Madison Square Garden. It was the opener of a doubleheader, with No. 13 Kentucky facing No. 16 UCLA in the nightcap.
The Tar Heels trailed for most of Game 1 before Davis hit a 3 from the wing with 1:29 left to make it 75-74 UNC.
Brice Sensabaugh made a jumper from inside the foul line with 2 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 79-77 lead. UNC used a couple of timeouts to get the play it wanted, first completing a long inbounds pass to get the ball past halfcourt.
That left 1.2 seconds, just enough for Leaky Black to lob an inbounds pass from the sideline across the court to the 6-foot-11 Nance, who was drifting away from the pack to the far side of the basket.
With about a 5-inch advantage on the defender Sensabaugh, Nance felt comfortable he was going to get a clean look.
“I thought it was a great play,” Nance said.
UNC’s Hubert Davis, who played the first four seasons of his 12-year NBA career with the New York Knicks, returned to the Garden as coach of his alma mater for the first time.
Davis said he told his team playing at MSG would be something they would remember for the rest of their lives.
“I love this place,” he said.
The Tar Heels get the other half of the Big Ten’s fiercest rivalry Wednesday when they face Michigan in Charlotte.
NC State 70, Vanderbilt 66
CHICAGO — D.J. Burns Jr. finished with 18 points and nine rebounds to help NC State hold off Vanderbilt 70-66 at the Legends of Basketball Showcase on Saturday night.
Burns sank 6 of 9 shots and all six of his free throws for the Wolfpack (10-3). Terquavion Smith added 16 points, five assists and three steals. Casey Morsell had 15 points and Jarkel Joiner scored 12.
Myles Stute had 11 points by halftime to help the Commodores (5-6) take a 38-34 lead. Smith had 14 points for the Wolfpack, making six of the Wolfpack’s 13 first-half baskets.
Tyrin Lawrence hit a jumper to give Vanderbilt a 46-38 lead in the second half, but Morsell answered with two 3-pointers and a basket in a 13-0 spurt to put the Wolfpack on top 51-46 with 12:40 left to play.
The Commodores pushed back, using Quentin Millora-Brown’s rebound bucket to grab a 56-55 lead with 8:12 remaining. NC State answered with Jack Clark’s 3-pointer and maintained a lead until Ezra Manjon followed his three-point play with a bucket to give Vanderbilt a 64-63 lead with 1:59 left.
The Wolfpack regained the lead 67-64 on two free throws by Burns and a layup by Morsell with 48 seconds to go. Joiner hit both ends of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left to give NC State a two-possession lead.
Stute led Vanderbilt with 16 points. Manjon and Lawrence both scored 12. Liam Robbins had 10 points.
Kevin Keatts, in his sixth season as NC State coach, picked up his 100th win with the Wolfpack.
NC State’s victory knots the all-time series at 3-3.
East Carolina 64, South Carolina 56
GREENEVILLE, S.C. — RJ Felton scored 21 points and East Carolina beat South Carolina 64-56 in the inaugural Greeneville Winter Invitational on Saturday.
East Carolina (8-4) has won three of its last four following a two-game losing streak. South Carolina (5-6) has dropped back-to-back games and has fallen below .500 for the third time this season.
The Pirates built a 12-0 lead and never trailed. Felton made 3-pointers 20 seconds apart for a 23-10 lead nine minutes before halftime. East Carolina had seven 3-pointers en route to a 37-18 halftime advantage.
Ezra Ausar threw down a dunk to give East Carolina a 42-22 lead before the Gamecocks closed to within 12 on an 8-0 run. Meechie Johnson’s layup with 4:01 left brought South Carolina within 53-46 but it couldn’t get closer.
Javon Small scored 12 points for East Carolina.
Hayden Brown scored 15 points for South Carolina and Gregory Jackson II and Johnson each scored 13.
The two teams have now split the 12 games played in the series. The last meeting between the two occurred on Dec. 20, 2004, when the Gamecocks earned a 57-53 win. Prior to Saturday, the Pirates last defeated the Gamecocks on Dec. 19, 1998, a 56-34 victory.
East Carolina is now 7-21 all-time against teams from the SEC. Entering Saturday, the last time ECU defeated an SEC opponent was during the 2002-03 season, a 65-58 win over Ole Miss.
Charlotte 80, Monmouth 46
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Jackson Threadgill’s 14 points helped Charlotte defeat Monmouth 80-46 on Saturday.
Threadgill shot 6 for 7, including 2 for 3 from beyond the arc for the 49ers (9-2). Josh Aldrich scored 10 points and added five rebounds. Brice Williams finished with 10 points.
The Hawks (1-11) were led in scoring by Myles Ruth, who finished with 16 points. Jack Collins added seven points and six rebounds, and Myles Foster finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Gardner-Webb 72, North Carolina Central 70
BOILING SPRINGS — DQ Nicholas converted a three-point play with 15 seconds left to lift Gardner-Webb to a 72-70 win over North Carolina Central on Saturday afternoon.
Marque Maultsby hit back-to-back layups, the second with 1:36 left to pull NC Central even at 69-69, and Eric Boone hit the second of two free throws to put the Eagles in front, 70-69.
Caleb Robinson scored 16 points and contributed six rebounds and three steals for the Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-7). Kareem Reid scored 15 points and Nicholas scored 15 while adding five assists and three steals.
Brendan Medley-Bacon led the way for the Eagles (5-7) with 19 points and seven rebounds. NC Central also got 15 points from Maultsby. In addition, Justin Wright finished with 12 points.
Appalachian State 100, Regent 32
BOONE — Christopher Mantis had 17 points in Appalachian State’s 100-32 victory over Regent on Saturday night.
Mantis shot 7 for 9, including 3 for 5 from beyond the arc for the Mountaineers (7-5). Tamell Pearson added 14 points while shooting 6 of 6 from the field, and he also had 12 rebounds. Justin Abson finished with 11 points.
Andrew Walston led the Royals in scoring, finishing with seven points. Matthew Mealy added six points for Regent. Michael Burkett also had six points.
Western Carolina 75, Tennessee Tech 65
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Tyzhaun Claude scored 21 points and Vonterius Woolbright had a double-double as Western Carolina defeated Tennessee Tech 75-65 on Saturday night.
Claude had six rebounds for the Catamounts (6-6). Woolbright finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Tre Jackson recorded 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
The Golden Eagles (3-9) were led by Jayvis Harvey with 19 points. Jaylen Sebree added 16 points and six rebounds, while Grant Strong scored 10. The loss is the sixth in a row for the Golden Eagles.
UNC Asheville 74, East Tennessee State 73
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Jamon Battle scored 21 points as UNC Asheville beat East Tennessee State 74-73 on Saturday night.
Battle also added six rebounds and four steals for the Bulldogs (8-4). Nicholas McMullen scored 14 points and Drew Pember pitched in with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Justice Smith led the way for the Buccaneers (4-8) with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals. Deanthony Tipler and Jalen Haynes both scored 13.
N.C. A&T 67, Texas Southern 66
LAS VEGAS — Marcus Watson scored 24 points as N.C. A&T beat Texas Southern 67-66 in overtime on Saturday night in Chris Paul’s HBCU Challenge.
Watson also added 13 rebounds for the Aggies (5-5). Kam Woods scored 18 points and added six rebounds. Demetric Horton recorded 14 points.
The Tigers (2-8) were led by Joirdon Karl Nicholas, who posted 21 points and 18 rebounds. PJ Henry added 18 points and four assists for Texas Southern. In addition, John Walker III had 16 points and two blocks.
No. 1 Purdue 69, Davidson 61
INDIANAPOLIS — Zach Edey finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds and Caleb Furst scored all 12 of his points in the second half to help No. 1 Purdue fend off Davidson 69-61 in the Indy Classic.
Furst also had 13 rebounds for the Boilermakers (11-0).
Sam Mennenga had 14 points and Foster Loyer added 11 points and 10 assists for Davidson (7-4). The Wildcats fell to 0-11 against No. 1 foes and 18-116 against Top 25 teams.
Davidson closed to 45-43 with 9:05 to go, Edey answered with all of Purdue’s points in a 7-2 run. And when Mennenga’s 3 with 4:13 left cut the deficit to 54-51, Purdue went back to Edey, who drew a foul and made two free throws.
Then, when Davidson got to 58-54 with 3:30 to play, Purdue finally took advantage of Edey’s presence by finding open shots and open lanes. The resulting 8-0 run allowed Purdue to pull away and the Boilermakers sealed it at the free throw line.
Davidson closes out nonconference play by hosting Northeastern on Wednesday night.
Rutgers 81, Wake Forest 57
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Caleb Spencer scored 15 points, Clifford Omoruyi had 14 points and nine rebounds and Rutgers defeated Wake Forest 81-57 on Saturday.
Caleb McConnell added 13 points, Paul Mulcahy had 10 points and seven assists and Aundre Hyatt also scored 10 points for the Scarlet Knights (7-4), who shot a season-high 58%. Their nationally-ranked top-five scoring defense held Wake Forest (8-4) to its lowest total of the season.
Damari Monsanto hit 6 of 12 3-point attempts and led the Demon Deacons with a season-high 22 points. Cameron Hildreth added 13 points and Tyree Appleby, the ACC scoring leader at 18.7 coming in, had 10.
Rutgers lost it previous two games to Ohio State and Seton Hall by a combined three points but took control early and never trailed in this one, leading by 10 at halftime and maintaining a double-digit lead throughout the second half. They forced a season-high 22 turnovers — 14 off steals — that turned into 26 points and outscored the Deacons in the paint 44-16.
Rutgers pushed a 10-point halftime lead out to 20 when it opened the second half on a 12-2 run, including consecutive 3-pointers by Spencer. Three-pointers by Hildreth, Monsanto and Daivien Williamson helped cut Wake Forest’s deficit to 10. The Scarlet Knights put the game away with an 11-0 run that left them up by 23 with 6:21 remaining.
In the first half, Rutgers used a 17-6 run with seven points from Omoruyi to take a 17-point lead before Appleby scored four straight points and Andrew Carr added a 3-pointer to get Wake Forest back within 44-33 at halftime.
Georgia Southern 54, Campbell 53
STATESBORO, Ga. — Tai Strickland scored with 1.8 seconds left and Tyren Moore scored 13 points as Georgia Southern beat Campbell 54-53 on Saturday.
Jalen Finch scored 12 points and added four steals for the Eagles (7-5). Andrei Savrasov recorded nine points.
Joshua Lusane led the Fighting Camels (5-6) in scoring, finishing with 16 points, five assists and two steals. Anthony Dell’Orso added 14 points and two steals for Campbell. Gediminas Mokseckas also had eight points.