North Carolina is quietly surging and playing very good basketball as they’re now 16-7 and 6-4 in the ACC after its 73-62 win at Notre Dame on Saturday.
The Tar Heels started out slowly in the ACC at 0-3 but have now won six of seven games entering a week at home against Duke and Pitt.
Against the Fighting Irish on Saturday, North Carolina also overcame a slow start. After falling behind 10-2 and 19-10, the Tar Heels rallied and clearly outplayed Notre Dame in nearly every facet of the game on Saturday as they pounded the ball inside, made just enough threes and performed far better at the free throw line.
With four wins over top-50 opponents, North Carolina has played a very difficult schedule and won a lot of tough games, but because of the poor start to ACC play, some automatically dismissed Roy Williams’ bunch.
But this team can really play.
Marcus Paige has continued to mature and develop, James Michael McAdoo is playing more consistently and other players are beginning to step up and emerge as well as Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto are capable of good games. Having Leslie McDonald back in the lineup helps a team that was also starving for perimeter shooting before the NCAA ruling.
North Carolina has five straight wins by double-digit points in the ACC and has a crack at Duke on Wednesday. The Tar Heels are playing with a lot of confidence and, all of the sudden, they’re a dangerous team as we get into the stretch run of ACC play.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.