Bacot, No. 16 North Carolina beat North Carolina Central

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Armando Bacot carried North Carolina in the first half. Then Andrew Platek stepped up for the Tar Heels.

Bacot had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 16 North Carolina stopped a two-game slide by holding off North Carolina Central for a 73-67 victory Saturday.

Caleb Love and Day’Ron Sharpe scored 12 points apiece for the Tar Heels (4-2), and Platek finished with 11.

“Just trying to do the same thing every game and just knowing what my role needs to be,” said Bacot, a sophomore forward. “Platek made a couple of big shots. … That made it easier for us to get the high-low passes and get the ball in the paint.”

N.C. Central (1-3) scored the final nine points of the game. C.J. Keyser had 19 points for the Eagles, and Justin Whatley finished with 13.

The Tar Heels missed their first 10 3-point attempts before Platek connected from the right wing on consecutive possessions for a 55-42 lead. The reserve guard then added a fast-break layup off a steal, giving him eight points in 75 seconds.

“I’m not scared to shoot the ball,” Platek said. “I just want to take good shots.”

North Carolina scored the final 10 points of the first half for a 30-28 lead, holding the Eagles scoreless for the last five minutes.

Bacot had 15 first-half points. He was 6 for 7 from the field for the game.

“The first half, he was the only offense,” coach Roy Williams said.

Nicolas Fennell had 11 points for N.C. Central, and foul-plagued Jamir Moultrie finished with 10 points.

“We’re confident. We believe in ourselves,” N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton said. “We expected to win the basketball game.”

The game was added to the schedule in the middle of the week. North Carolina had an opening after a matchup with Elon was shelved when Elon’s program went on a coronavirus-related pause. N.C. Central had played only once since Nov. 26, with three games canceled.

“It’s all organized chaos at this point,” Moton said. “I told our team we have to find comfort in discomfort.”

Garza, Nunge lead No. 3 Iowa past Western Illinois, 99-58

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Luka Garza and Jack Nunge came to Iowa in the same recruiting class. It’s a connection that Garza, the Big Ten player of the year last season, appreciates.

And with Nunge now back with the Hawkeyes, Garza couldn’t be happier – for a lot of reasons.

Garza scored 35 points, 30 in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 3 Iowa stayed unbeaten with a 99-58 win over Western Illinois on Thursday night.

Nunge, playing his first game this season following the death of his father, matched his career high with 18 points for the Hawkeyes (3-0).

“It was incredible,” Garza said. “His strength is so inspiring. That’s my brother. He is so responsible for the development of myself and my game. I’m just so proud of him, and his ability to push through everything he and his family are going through.”

Nunge’s career has taken a different path than Garza. Nunge took a redshirt season two years ago, then missed almost all of last season with a knee injury.

He was expected to be a key part of Iowa’s rotation this season, but he missed the first two games because of the death of his father, Mark, a physician in Newburgh, Indiana.

“It’s been a long road for me – it’s been over a year since I’ve played a game,” Nunge said. “To go out there and finally show what I can do felt good for me.

“It was something my dad would be proud of. He’s watching me from up above. He doesn’t have to worry about work or anything. He can watch me play.”

Nunge shot 8 of 11 from the field in 21 minutes of action.

“It was just so incredible to see,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “And I knew it was going to happen.”

“Every day, it’s tough,” Nunge said “Being here with my teammates, talking with my family, we’re getting through this. We’ve got to get through this, get through this together.”

Garza posted his 23rd career double-double and reached 30 points in the first half for the second consecutive game. He had 36 by halftime of last Friday’s 103-76 victory over Southern.

It was the 19th straight game of 20 points or more for Garza, the lone unanimous selection on The Associated Press preseason All-America team. That matched North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren (2013-14) for the longest streak by a major conference player over the last 20 seasons.

“You can watch film all you want on Garza,” Western Illinois coach Rob Jeter said. “Until you get out there, you don’t know what it’s like. Right now, it’s too easy for him.”

Joe Wieskamp added 11 points and Patrick McCaffery scored 10 for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa led 48-26 at halftime before Western Illinois (0-1) reeled off an early second-half run to get to 61-46. But the Hawkeyes outscored the Leathernecks 22-2 over the next 4:52.

Tamell Pearson had 12 points to lead Western Illinois. Rod Johnson Jr. scored 11 and Will Carius added 10.

MAJOR RECONSTRUCTION

Western Illinois was playing its first game under Jeter. The Leathernecks have 14 new players on their 16-man roster. They missed 20 of their first 24 shots and went scoreless for almost six minutes in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa opened the season with games against North Carolina Central, Southern and Western Illinois, but the schedule will get tougher in the coming weeks. The Hawkeyes play North Carolina and Iowa State next week, and will face No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 19 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

UP NEXT

Western Illinois has a home game against Central Michigan on Sunday.

The Hawkeyes are off until Tuesday when they host No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, their first game against a ranked opponent this season.

Nearly perfect Garza scores 41, No. 5 Iowa routs Southern

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Luka Garza expects perfection every time he shoots.

The Iowa center came close to that in the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes’ 103-76 win over Southern on Friday.

Garza scored 41 points, missing just one shot early in the second half. He was 14 of 15 from the field, making all three of his 3-point attempts, and was 10 of 12 on free throws. He also had nine rebounds and three blocked shots in 29 minutes.

It was the 18th consecutive game of 20 or more points for Garza, the lone unanimous selection to the AP preseason All-America team.

“Whenever I get the ball, I feel like I can score,” Garza said. “Sometimes you have those days where you’re just making shots. I put enough work into each shot that when I put it up, I have a strong feeling that it’s going to go in.

“I kind of just felt like every shot I took, I should have made. The one I missed, I felt like I should have made it as well. I have that confidence every time I step on the floor. I feel like I can make every shot I take.”

Garza’s coaches and teammates enjoyed the ride.

“That’s a big number,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “Kudos to our guys to realize he had it going, and load him up.”

“I mean, he’s terrific,” forward Joe Wieskamp said. “He’s a terrific player, and he’s going to be like that all season long.”

Garza had 36 of his points in the first half, making all 12 of his field-goal attempts, and Iowa (2-0) led 58-35 at halftime.

“We moved the ball around well, and I was able to get some touches,” Garza said. “Whenever I get the ball, I feel like I can score.”

What McCaffery appreciated the most was Garza’s perfect 3-point shooting.

“He’s just been killing the 3-ball, shooting it with confidence,” McCaffery said of the 6-foot-11 senior.

Garza’s perfect run ended when he missed a shot 28 seconds into the second half.

Ashante Shivers led Southern (0-2) with 13 points. Jayden Saddler scored 12, Lamarcus Lee had 11 and DJ Burns had 10.

The Hawkeyes scored 15 of the game’s first 17 points. Southern got to within 17-13 before Iowa pulled away behind Garza.

Garza opened the game with a 3-pointer and had 11 of Iowa’s first 17 points.

Garza’s game ranked seventh on Iowa’s single-game scoring list. His career high was 44 against Michigan on Dec. 6, 2019.

Wieskamp added 16 points and seven rebounds for Iowa.

PROGRAM HISTORY

Iowa’s single-game scoring record is 49 points, set by John Johnson in a 1970 game against Northwestern. Garza and Johnson are the only two Hawkeyes with two 40-point games. Garza scored the most points by a Hawkeye in a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, beating the previous record of 36 by Adam Haluska (2006) and Rob Griffin (2000). The arena record is 45 points by Brian Quinnett of Washington State (1986).

NUNGE ABSENT

Iowa played its second game without forward Jack Nunge, who is out indefinitely after the death of his father on Saturday. Nunge missed almost all of last season with a knee injury.

BIG PICTURE

It was a good opening weekend for the Hawkeyes, who won 97-67 over North Carolina Central on Wednesday night in what was a three-team round-robin event. Southern lost to North Carolina Central 85-78 in overtime on Thursday.

UP NEXT

Southern’s schedule doesn’t get any easier – the Jaguars play at top-ranked Gonzaga on Thursday.

Iowa gets a third consecutive home game on Thursday, when the Hawkeyes face Western Illinois.