Caleb Grill, Iowa State topples No. 1 North Carolina 70-65

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Caleb Grill has followed T.J. Otzelberger from South Dakota State to UNLV and now back to Iowa State hoping the pair could share a moment like they did Friday.

Taking down the No. 1 team in the country was another bookmark moment in a long journey for the pair.

“I’m actually really enjoying sitting next to him from this moment right now just thinking about how long we’ve known each other and how cool this really was,” Otzelberger said.

Grill hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points and Iowa State rallied in the final five minutes to stun No. 1 North Carolina 70-65 in the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational.

Iowa State (5-0) picked up just its third win over a team ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25. The Cyclones are 3-22 against No. 1 teams, with the other wins coming against Kansas in 1957 and Oklahoma in 2016.

The Cyclones can now add North Carolina (5-1) to the list.

“I was just staying the course of the game. I never really thought about it and the game just kind of came to me,” Grill said.

Grill was averaging 7.3 points and had made just 4 of 24 3-point attempts for the season entering Friday. But he couldn’t be stopped from beyond the arc, hitting a pair of big 3s to spark Iowa State’s late rally. His deep fadeaway jumper just inside the 3-point line with 1:40 left gave Iowa State a 63-61 lead and the Cyclones did just enough at the free throw line in the final minute to close out the upset victory.

Grill’s previous career high was 27 points while playing for UNLV in the 2020-21 season against Alabama. He also hit seven 3-pointers in that game.

Grill originally signed with South Dakota State when Otzelberger was the coach there. He was released from his commitment when Otzelberger took the head job at UNLV and started his career at Iowa State before deciding to join his coach in Las Vegas.

When Otzelberger returned to Ames, Grill followed again.

“Just having him be the first person that really had belief in me, it’s just really special what he’s done for me and my family and everything we’ve done,” Grill said.

Jaren Holmes added 22 points and the Cyclones withstood off shooting games from Aljaz Kunc and Gabe Kalscheur, who combined for three points and missed all eight of their shot attempts. Both were averaging double figures scoring for Iowa State.

RJ Davis led North Carolina with 15 points, Armando Bacot added 14 and Caleb Love scored 12. But the Tar Heels will lament a series of mistakes in the closing minutes that allowed Iowa State to rally.

“We had wide open threes. We were able to get to the basket. We were able to get whatever we wanted, we just didn’t make those shots,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said.

North Carolina led 57-49 after Leaky Black’s layup with 5:43 left, but missed four of its final six shots and had four turnovers during that span.

“We turned the ball over a couple of times and you just can’t do that in late-game situations,” Davis said. “You have to be sound and discipline and you have to do that on both ends of the floor and we just didn’t do it.”

NO. 1 LOSSES

North Carolina lost as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time since Nov. 21, 2015 when it lost 71-67 at Northern Iowa. The Tar Heels also lost as No. 1 to UNLV in 2011 at a Thanksgiving tournament.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: Pete Nance wasn’t able to contribute in the same way he did in Thursday’s opening round. Nance, who tied his career high with 28 points against Portland, didn’t score for the first 27 minutes and finished with seven points.

Iowa State: The Cyclones were playing a No. 1 team from outside their conference for the first time since 1999 when they faced Cincinnati in the championship game of the Big Island Invitational.

UP NEXT

Iowa State will face either No. 18 Alabama or No. 20 UConn in the championship game while the Tar Heels will face the loser for third place.

AP Top 25: Virginia climbs to No. 5, UNC and Houston are 1-2

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Virginia had the difficult task of playing two ranked teams while grieving a tragedy that shook the Cavaliers and the rest of their campus.

Playing a week after three football players were shot to death on a bus, Virginia won the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas over No. 16 Illinois after taking down No. 7 Baylor. The wins vaulted the Cavaliers from No. 16 to fifth in The Associated Press Top 25 released Monday.

“It feels great in the moment, but more so now, we know what truly matters,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “When you have a momentary celebration like this, it enables you to enjoy it and it seems to matter, but in the big picture, it doesn’t.”

A slate of marquee games in the second full week of the college basketball season led to tumult in the AP Top 25.

North Carolina remained atop the poll, receiving 47 first-place votes from a 63-person media panel. Houston moved up a spot to No. 2 and had nine first-place votes. No. 3 Kansas had one first-place vote, No. 4 Texas received five and Virginia one.

The Cavaliers (4-0) had the week’s biggest jump, climbing to its highest ranking since reaching No. 4 in 2020-21.

Virginia opted to cancel its game against Northern Iowa last week after Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry were fatally shot after a field trip to Washington.

The Cavaliers wore sweatshirts honoring the victims during warmups before playing Baylor and pulled away in the second half for an 86-79 win. The Cavaliers used another second-half run to beat Illinois 70-61, claiming a therapeutic title to take back with them to Charlottesville.

“Just for the community, I felt like they needed that,” Virginia guard and tournament MVP Reece Beekman said.

SPARTY RISING

Michigan State was unranked in the AP preseason poll in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-97 after losing its top three scorers from a year ago.

With a brutal early schedule, the Spartans figured to need some time to gain their footing. Tom Izzo has them moving at an accelerated pace. Michigan State lost by one to Gonzaga on an aircraft carrier, knocked off Kentucky in double overtime and survived a late comeback bid to beat Villanova.

The solid showing in a difficult stretch moved Michigan State into this week’s poll at No. 12.

“It’s everything that we thought it would be,” Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard said. “This is what we signed up for, this is what we wanted.”

HOT HOUSTON

Houston opened the season at No. 3, its highest preseason ranking since 1983. The Cougars hit another high mark since the Phi Slama Jama era, moving up a spot to No. 2 this week.

Houston opened the season with four straight blowouts and made a statement in its first big test of the season, winning 66-56 at Oregon on Sunday night.

The Cougars are holding teams to 46 points per game and have four players averaging double-figures scoring, led by preseason All-American Marcus Sasser’s 16.8 points per game.

RISING/FALLING

Virginia had the week’s biggest jump within the poll, followed by No. 4 Texas’ seven-spot climb after manhandling Gonzaga.

No. 15 Kentucky and No. 19 UCLA had the biggest drops, losing 11 places. The Wildcats lost to Michigan State and followed a win over South Carolina State with a 16-point loss to Gonzaga. The Bruins lost to Illinois and Baylor in Las Vegas.

IN AND OUT

No. 23 Maryland is ranked for the first time this season after picking up three wins last week, including 88-70 over Miami to win the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

Purdue makes its AP Top 25 debut this season at No. 24 following a 75-70 win over Marquette.

No. 25 Iowa also is ranked for the first time in 2022-23 on the heels of its 16-point win over Seton Hall.

North Carolina, Gonzaga are 1-2 atop AP Top 25 men’s poll

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North Carolina didn’t have a dominating start at No. 1. The Tar Heels open their second week atop the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll with coach Hubert Davis reminding his players it will take time to find a flow like the one that carried them to last year’s NCAA championship game.

UNC (2-0) earned 44 of 63 first-place votes to finish ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga in Monday’s first regular-season AP Top 25, which featured only slight changes from the preseason poll released Oct. 17.

The Tar Heels return four starters from last year’s team, including AP preseason All-American Armando Bacot inside. But they labored through wins last week, first against UNC Wilmington and then against College of Charleston.

After the opener, Davis said he hoped it was “first-game anxiousness and nervousness.” After the second, he said he had talked to his team about dealing with expectations.

“One of the things I’ve sensed in them – I just felt not a nervousness, but maybe a little bit of a burden of the expectations,” Davis said. “And I tried to get them to understand that though those are expectations are noise, it means nothing.

“I felt like on every play, they were trying to make it look like the way we looked in April. That’s just not possible. That just can’t happen. This is this year’s team.”

THE TOP TIER

The second-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) picked up 14 first-place votes after wins against North Florida and Michigan State, the latter coming on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Third-ranked Houston (2-0) and fourth-ranked Kentucky (2-0) picked up the remaining five votes.

Baylor and Kansas were tied for fifth previously. This time, Baylor is alone at No. 5, followed by Kansas and Duke. UCLA, Arkansas and Creighton round out the top 10.

THE NEW ERAS

Duke and Villanova both are starting with young coaches replacing retired Hall of Famers. One had an early stumble that carried it right out of the poll.

The Blue Devils beat Jacksonville and USC Upstate – surrendering 82 combined points – in their first two games under Jon Scheyer, who has taken over for Mike Krzyzewski in that program’s first coaching change since 1980.

The Wildcats have turned to Kyle Neptune, who took over in the spring after the retirement of Jay Wright. They won their opener against La Salle then lost to Temple, which dropped them from 16th to unranked for the first time since February 2019.

RISING

Illinois (2-0) had the biggest jump, climbing four spots to No. 19 after two easy home wins. No. 14 Arizona and No. 21 Dayton each rose three spots. In all, 12 teams moved up from the preseason poll.

SLIDING

Tennessee (1-1) took the biggest tumble, falling 11 spots to No. 22 after losing to Colorado in its home state.

Kansas – which fell out of the voting tie at No. 5 – Creighton and No. 15 TCU fell one spot each to round out the four teams that slid from their preseason rankings.

STATUS QUO

Seven teams, all inside the top 10, held their preseason position.

WELCOME

No. 24 Texas A&M and No. 25 Connecticut are the week’s new additions. The Huskies spent most of last season in the AP Top 25, though the Aggies joined the poll for the first time under fourth-year coach Buzz Williams. Texas A&M was last ranked in February 2018, a season that ended with an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.

FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

Oregon (No. 21) joined Villanova as the two teams to fall out from the preseason poll. The Ducks opened with a home win against Florida A&M but lost at home to UC Irvine four days later.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Southeastern Conference led the way with six ranked teams, with No. 13 Auburn and No. 18 Alabama joining Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

The Big 12 was next with five, with No. 11 Texas and No. 23 Texas Tech joining Baylor, Kansas and TCU.

The Atlantic Coast Conference had three, with No. 16 Virginia joining UNC and Duke; while the Big Ten had three with No. 12 Indiana and No. 20 Michigan joining Illinois.

The Pac-12 and Big East each had two ranked teams, followed by the West Coast, American Athletic, Mountain West and Atlantic 10 conferences each having one.

No. 12 North Carolina women open with 91-59 victory

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Alyssa Ustby had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Kennedy Todd-Williams scored 20 points and grabbed nine boards and No. 12 North Carolina defeated Jackson State 91-59 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.

Paulina Paris and Eva Hodgson added 13 points each for the Tar Heels, who shot 58% from the field – while limiting the Lady Tigers to 34% shooting, and scored 22 points off 20 Jackson State turnovers, including 16 North Carolina steals.

The teams were tied midway through the first quarter before North Carolina finished the period on a 15-4 run. The Tar Heels scored the last 12 points in their 31-point second quarter and led 53-20 at halftime. UNC’s largest lead was 41 in the third quarter.

Jariyah Covington led Jackson State with 19 points.

Both teams played in the NCAA Tournament last season, UNC reaching the Sweet 16 and Jackson State, narrowly, losing in the first round to LSU.

No. 1 Tar Heels hold down UNCW in opening win

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Players for No. 1 North Carolina provided reminders that this was just the beginning Monday night.

Caleb Love and RJ Davis scored 17 points apiece and the Tar Heels started a season of grand expectations by pulling away from UNC Wilmington with a 69-56 victory Monday night.

“I think we all came out a little rusty,” senior forward Armando Bacot said. “It’s not easy winning games. I’m glad it’s the first game and not later on in the season.”

Bacot added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels, who were perhaps most impressive at the defensive end. UNCW shot just 29.8 % from the field.

The Tar Heels, who were the NCAA Tournament runner-up in April, began the new season with the top ranking for the first time in seven years. It’s a record 10th time that North Carolina has been ranked No. 1 to start a season – one more than rival Duke.

“We didn’t hit our stride last year til January, February,” forward Leaky Black said. “It’s a win. It’s Day 1, literally. I’m excited for the potential that we have. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Trazarien White scored 19 points for UNCW, which faced a top-ranked team for the first time in program history. Skykeim Phillips had 11 points and Donovan Newby added 10. The Seahawks went 4-for-16 on 3-pointers.

“For us to stick to the process is important,” UNCW coach Takayo Siddle said. “I think that’s something to build on.”

After an incredible NCAA tournament run for the Tar Heels last spring, second-year coach Hubert Davis knows it will take time to return to that level.

“It gives us a really good baseline on what we need to work on and improve at,” Coach Davis said. “My hope is that it was first-game anxiousness and nervousness.”

North Carolina led 32-21 at halftime behind Davis’ 11 points, but it wasn’t easy.

“We were rushing and taking bad shots,” Bacot said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the first game.”

It was tied 17-17 with six minutes to go in the first half before a 12-2 run for the Tar Heels, who missed 10 of their first 14 shots prior to that spurt.

The Tar Heels have won their first game of a season for 18 years in a row. North Carolina has won 21 consecutive Smith Center openers.

North Carolina reserves managed only six points. UNCW held a 37-32 rebounding edge.

“They held me to nine rebounds,” said Bacot, a preseason All-American. “I would say that’s probably a bad game for me.”

PLEASE PASS

North Carolina was credited with four assists, matching its lowest total since a double-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the 1980 NCAA Tournament.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is passing up good shots to get great shots,” Coach Davis said. “That just wasn’t there.”

That was all part of an awkward offense.

“At times, we couldn’t even catch the basketball,” Coach Davis said. “I know we have a veteran group, but it was a first game.”

On the flip side, UNCW’s three assists were the fewest for a North Carolina opponent since December 1975 vs. Kentucky.

BIG PICTURE

UNCW: The Seahawks were competitive for most of the game and provided a good deal of physicality in the game. They pulled in 16 offensive rebounds, though they had lots of opportunities for those considering their horrid shooting touch. It was probably a good barometer for the Seahawks while they fell to 0-6 all-time vs. North Carolina.

“We emphasize rebounding,” Siddle said. “That’s part of who we are with offensive rebounding. I wish we could have made a few more shots.”

North Carolina: This wasn’t the smoothest performance for the Tar Heels, but they’ll have time to address glitches as they’ll play their first four games at home. With four starters returning from last season’s team, there’s plenty of experience in the lineup. Northwestern transfer Pete Nance completed the starting five. This was the 47th straight win against in-state, non-conference competition for the Tar Heels.

UP NEXT

UNCW: Friday at home vs. Allen

North Carolina: Friday at home vs. College of Charleston

Hubert Davis gets new deal, raise with No. 1 UNC after 1st-year run

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North Carolina coach Hubert Davis has a new six-year contract and a raise after his first-year run to the NCAA championship game.

Signed in late August, the deal runs through the 2027-28 season and is worth about $16.7 million. That includes base and supplemental pay, as well as compensation tied to the school’s multimedia and sports-apparel agreements with Learfield and Nike, respectively, and an annual expense allowance.

It will pay an average of nearly $2.8 million per year, starting with $2.3 million for the upcoming season and increasing to $3.1 million for the final year. Performance bonuses could add another nearly $1.1 million per season.

Davis received a five-year deal after succeeding retiring Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams in April 2021. It was worth about $10 million in base salary, supplemental pay, Learfield/Nike compensation and the expense allowance. It also featured a similar performance-bonus structure.

Davis made $1.8 million last year before picking up another $575,000 in bonuses for the Final Four run. He was originally due to make at least $2.9 million in 2025-26.

Davis, 52, played for UNC under late Hall of Famer Dean Smith and coached under Williams for nine seasons.

“I love this job,” Davis said during the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason media day earlier this month. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of this program. And to say that I’ve been able to be a part of it as a player, as an assistant coach and now as a head coach is a really cool deal.”

This year’s Tar Heels return four starters and are ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25.