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UNC beats Michigan, records first big win of Hubert Davis era. Here’s what we learned

·3 min read

North Carolina won its first big home game of the Hubert Davis era with a 72-51 victory over No. 24 Michigan Wednesday in the Dean E. Smith Center. The win snapped a three game losing streak for the Tar Heels (5-2) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

It didn’t quite have the buzz of a big game in the Dean E. Smith Center, but it had enough moments to shake the Wolverines. They looked like a team playing in their first road game of the season — and for some their biggest crowd ever coming off last year’s pandemic-reduced crowds. Michigan had five of its 13 turnovers within the first four minutes of the game.

The biggest lift seemed to come when Caleb Love was called for a blocking foul while defending Michigan guard Eli Brooks. The replay showed Brooks extending his arm to push off, which caused Love to fall. With the crowd amped up, the Heels used a 14-6 spurt to extend its lead to 48-35 and the Wolverines never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Bacot vs. Dickinson

The battle of the big men never quite emerged the way it seemed to be one of the game’s key on paper.

Carolina’s Armando Bacot, who is from Richmond, Va., and Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, who is from Alexandria, Va., played on the same grassroots team. (Wolverines forward Terrance Williams II was also on that same team.) They all remain friends to this day.

Bacot (15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds) leads the Heels in both categories. Dickinson (14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds) is second in scoring and leads Michigan in rebounding.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (5) gets a dunk during the second half against Michigan on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Bacot scored 11 points in the Tar Heels’ 72-51 victory.
North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (5) gets a dunk during the second half against Michigan on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Bacot scored 11 points in the Tar Heels’ 72-51 victory.

But the showdown between the two friends never materialized thanks to Dickinson’s foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls. He’d pick up his third and fourth fouls within 12 seconds of each other to start the second half. The fourth came when Bacot completed a three-point play just 90 seconds after halftime.

Bacot finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds. While Dickinson was limited to just four points and five rebounds.

Defense came through

Carolina had been much-maligned for its defensive effort through the first five games. But the Heels turned in arguably their best performance of the season against the Wolverines.

Michigan’s 51 points were not just a season-low for the Wolverines, it was the fewest UNC allowed in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game since it gave up just 55 to Ohio State the 2007-08 season.

The Heels limited Brooks, Michigan’s leading scorer who entered scoring 15.7 per game, scored just 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field. They also held Michigan to just 35 percent shooting from the field.

Love for shooting

Love tied his career-high with four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 22 points. It was his third 20-point game this season.

Love, who shot just 26 percent from 3-point range last season, entered the game shooting 32 percent from behind the arc. The good sign for Carolina was that his shots came within the flow of the offense. He didn’t seem to force any.

When Love shoots like he did Wednesday night, Carolina will be tough to beat. In their two losses, he was a combined 10-for-24 from the field.

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