Armando Bacot sets UNC basketball records, Tar Heels hold off NC State in 80-69 ACC win


As one star ascended, another took a fall that could change a season.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot got the records and an 80-69 win Saturday against N.C. State in the Dean E. Smith Center in a game marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to Wolfpack leading scorer Terquavion Smith.

Bacot, a senior forward from Richmond, Va., had 23 points and 18 rebounds to pass Billy Cunningham for first with his 61st double-double in program history. He also surpassed Tyler Hansbrough to become the program’s career rebounding leader.

Bacot needed 17 to best Hansbrough entering the game and he notched that on an Ebenezer Dowuona miss with 6:57 remaining to a rousing ovation from the Smith Center crowd.

It was a very different sound just three minutes prior. The capacity crowd was silent as it watched Smith placed on a stretcher and wheeled off the floor.

Wolfpack teammates watch as N.C. State’s Terquavion Smith is stretchered off the floor after being injured during the second half of N.C. State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

With 9:45 left, Leaky Black fouled Smith on a layup and struck him in the head. Smith came down off balance and appeared to land awkwardly on his elbow. UNC staff including athletics trainer Doug Halverson provided an aircast for his right arm then he was placed on a stretcher.

Smith’s neck was also placed in a brace as he was carted off the floor. The game stopped for about 11 minutes of real time.

When play resumed, Black was called for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. The Pack took advantage of the free throws and possessions and cut a 10-point deficit down to 59-53.

Without their leading scorer to be the focal point of their offense, the Pack went four minutes without scoring. Carolina didn’t shoot much better from the field: It went five minutes between field goals from Black’s dunk and a R.J. Davis layup.

The difference was the Heels kept getting to the free throw line even as they missed shots. UNC had a 7-0 burst scoring all on free throws including a flagrant-1 call on Casey Morsell as his off hand struck Caleb Love in the face on a layup.

Armed with a 66-53 lead with 6:09 left, the Heels maintained control of the game the rest of the way.

Davis led the Heels with 26 points on just 5-for-8 shooting, but he was perfect on 14 free throw attempts.

Jerkel Joiner and D.J. Burns led the Pack with 18 points each.

North Carolina’s R.J. Davis (4) dives for the ball with N.C. State’s Jarkel Joiner (1) during the first half of N.C. State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

North Carolina’s R.J. Davis (4) dives for the ball with N.C. State’s Jarkel Joiner (1) during the first half of N.C. State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Burns was the boost that the Pack needed on offense. The 6-foot-9 forward bullied UNC big men Pete Nance and Jalen Washington when they tried to stop the 275-pound forward from getting where he wanted in the post.

Burns scored nine points in the first half on 4-for-6 shooting and helped draw two fouls on UNC’s Armando Bacot that sent him to the bench. Burns was so effective scoring that the Heels started to double team him.

When they did, his quick passes out caught Carolina defenders scrambling and Morsell knocked down a pair of open 3-pointers.

That all changed in the second half.

Burns picked up two fouls within 36 second of each other and picked up his fourth with 12:45 left. Burns sat out for six minutes before returning. But the Heels lead was too much to overcome.



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