UNC Basketball: Carolina Outlasts Ohio State in Overtime Thriller

Dec 17, 2022; New York, New York, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard R.J. Davis (4) reacts during the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2022; New York, New York, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard R.J. Davis (4) reacts during the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC basketball team picked up a critical non-conference win in dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon.

When Brice Sensabaugh buried a mid-range jumper to put Ohio State up by two with just two seconds left in regulation, it looked like Carolina would head back to Chapel Hill with another tough non-conference loss.  Barring a miracle, the Heels would drop to 7-5 on the year and miss out on another opportunity to boost their NCAA Tournament resume.

Enter Pete Nance.

The Tar Heel forward who hadn’t made an outside shot all game caught a cross-court inbounds pass, turned, and hit a gorgeous fade away as the buzzer sounded.  As the replay showed, Nance released the ball with 0.1 seconds left and sent the game to overtime in an improbable fashion.

After a couple of buckets from Caleb Love, an Armando Bacot putback, and four cold-blooded RJ Davis free throws, UNC secured the victory in overtime and completed a miraculous comeback.

In the first half, Ohio State jumped out to an early fourteen-point lead, and Carolina was forced to play catch-up for the rest of the game.  The Tar Heels fell behind largely because of a combination of bad perimeter defense and poor outside shooting, as they trailed by nine at the break after allowing a three at the first-half buzzer.

UNC stormed out of the locker room and cut the deficit to one early in the second half, but couldn’t take the lead and trailed by eleven with just seven minutes to play.  Then, Hubert Davis made the first of two outstanding coaching moves, as the Heels started to trap OSU with full-court pressure, which forced some turnovers, sped up the Buckeyes, and allowed UNC to cut the lead to one at the final media timeout (after a huge Leaky Black three-pointer).

In the final three minutes, New York native RJ Davis stepped up with a couple of strong drives and a clutch three-pointer that finally gave the Heels the lead with under two minutes to play.  The two teams exchanged key baskets after that, and with the score tied it appeared the Buckeyes would hold for one final shot and try to win the game at the buzzer.

Sensabaugh would make the aforementioned jumper that looked like it would be the game-winner with just two seconds to play.  Then, Hubert Davis made his second great coaching move, as he called a timeout to set up a play where the Heels would inbound the ball to half-court and immediately call another timeout, which gave them the opportunity for Nance to work his magic. The Heels capitalized on the momentum and outlasted the Buckeyes in the extra five minutes to finish the deal.

Carolina hung around largely due to another monster performance from Armando Bacot, who finished the game with 28 points and 15 rebounds.  The Caleb Love experience was alive and well at MSG, as he hit some very clutch shots and took a couple of very questionable shots, but he finished with 22 points, 7 assists, and just 2 turnovers in an overall impressive effort from the Junior guard.  His backcourt-mate RJ Davis came alive at the end of the game and made some clutch shots (and critical free throws) to help cap off the comeback.  He finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Heels continued their improvement in a couple of areas where they struggled during their losing streak, as they won the rebounding battle and continued to share the ball offensively.  UNC out-rebounded OSU by six and assisted on 20 of their 32 made field goals.  Five Tar Heels saw time off the bench, but they contributed just three total points.

When thinking about what this victory means for UNC, it is pretty simple.  The Heels were 0-4 entering the day in their non-conference games against power six opponents, and they were in serious danger of falling to 0-5 with just one more opportunity coming up (Wednesday vs Michigan).  This win gives Carolina a quality non-conference win over a likely NCAA Tournament team that should hold up as a “Quad One win” and impress the committee on Selection Sunday.

It was far from easy, but the Heels have now won three in a row and will look to make it four against Michigan this week.  There’s no telling how the rest of the season will go, but Nance’s shot and this comeback win have the potential to be a turning point for Carolina.

Next. Homecoming for Coach Davis. dark

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