Hold On!!! Carolina Pushes Past Louisville, 70-60
After a pretty terrible first half performance by the Tar Heels, Carolina turned it on and beat Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, 70-60.
This is the biggest win of Carolina’s season, no doubt. The only one that comes close would be the mid-January win over this same squad.
How did the Tar Heels pull it off? Well it starts with defense. Louisville shot 34.9% from the field and 18.2% from the 3-point line.
Carolina was also efficient from outside. They may have only taken 11 shots from downtown, but Marcus Paige made three and Joel Berry knocked down two as well.
Speaking of Paige, the leader of the Tar Heels may have only scored 13 points, but he was busy stuffing the stats. It wasn’t as good as yesterday’s near triple-double showing, but Paige grabbed three rebounds, dished out five assists and picked up four steals along the way.
Brice Johnson continues to be an absolute monster for Carolina. Johnson scored 22 points on the day, with 18 coming in the second half. He’s averaging about 16 points over the past five games. When he’s this active, Carolina is scary.
In fact, both of the big guys showed up in the second half. Here’s a look at their stats in the last 20 minutes:
Brice Johnson: 18 points, 6 rebounds
Kennedy Meeks: 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks
These two were around to close out the game, not something we’ve seen from them all season.
Another note: J.P. Tokoto is very important to Carolina’s success. Tokoto picked up two fouls early in the game and had to sit for a while. When that happened, UNC’s offense went stagnant. And then, in the last five minutes, Tokoto made two HUGE plays. He jumped over Montrezl Harrell to grab a rebound, which frustrated the big guy and got him to foul. Then up by seven, with two minutes left, Tokoto stepped in front of a Louisville inbounds pass, stealing the win for the Heels.
Next up for Carolina, UVA in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. The game will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The last time UNC played the Cavs, they lost in the Dean Dome 75-64. Will things be different this time for the Heels? Possibly. Marcus is healthy, Justin Jackson has confidence, Brice Johnson is on a tear and Joel Berry is hitting threes. Stay tuned to Tar Heel Depot and Point The Passer for coverage of the ACC tournament and UNC’s matchup against UVA.
Photos Courtesy of Spencer Herlong and Robert Willett.