The No. 18 Tech men’s basketball team headed up to Chapel Hill this weekend to square off against the No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels. Both the Jackets and the Tar Heels were coming off of road losses, having recently dropped conference away games at Virginia and Clemson respectively.
Tech won the tip-off and took an early lead on a three-pointer from freshman guard Mfon Udofia. After giving up two straight jumpers to Carolina senior forward Deon Thompson, the Jackets reassumed the lead on a jump shot from junior forward Gani Lawal. This would be the last lead change until the end of the second half.
The Jackets proceeded to push their lead to 20 over the next ten minutes, scoring 24 points to Carolina’s five. Sophomore guard Iman Shumpert, who finished the game with 30 points and six assists, accounted for 10 of Tech’s 24 in this stretch.
The Tar Heels were able to cut the deficit to ten with 1:30 left to play in the first half, but a quick three from Shumpert made it 40-27 in favor of the Jackets. A Carolina foul shot and another jumper from Shumpert closed out the first, putting the score at 42-28 heading into halftime.
Although the first five minutes of the second half saw Tech maintain its double-digit lead, a pair of free throws by Carolina’s redshirt junior forward Will Graves cut the differential to eight. The Jackets responded with seven straight points, but the Tar Heels recorded 12 unanswered points and put themselves within four with eight minutes left to play.
Graves, responsible for eight of these 12 points, led the charge for the Heels in the second half. He finished the game with 24 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc.
With 4:33 left, Graves hit another three-pointer to put Carolina ahead for the first time since the beginning of the contest. The teams swapped leads for the next three minutes.
A steal by freshman forward Derrick Favors gave Tech the ball with 1:06 remaining and, after driving the lane and drawing a foul, Shumpert knocked down a pair of free throws to give Tech a one point edge, putting the score at 70-69. Carolina freshman forward Travis Wear hit a shot in the paint to put the Heels back in front, but Tech senior forward Zachary Peacock drove to the basket and hit a jumper to put Tech right back ahead with just 28 seconds remaining.
Carolina sophomore guard Larry Drew II missed a jumper, and Wear’s follow was unsuccessful as well, giving Tech the ball with a one-point lead and eight seconds on the clock. A Carolina foul put redshirt senior forward D’Andre Bell at the line with three seconds to play. Bell hit the second of his two foul shots, and the Heels quickly passed the ball to half-court and called a timeout. With just 1.7 left on the game clock, Carolina got the ball to Graves, who missed a difficult shot from near mid-court and sealed the victory for the Jackets.
Tech’s win on Saturday puts them at 2-2 in the ACC and 13-4 overall. The team heads back to Atlanta to face the No. 24 Clemson Tigers this Tuesday.