No. 1 North Carolina (5-0) vs.
Phil Knight Invitational semifinals
Portland, Ore. — Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Friday, Nov. 25 – 5:30 pm ET (ESPN)
“It doesn’t matter if it’s West Coast, East Coast, if we’re playing at 10 am, 10 pm, we need to go out with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm. We all love the game, so we should have such passion and emotion. Coach Davis talked to us about that fire, about playing with that fire, playing with enthusiasm and energy, and you can kind of see that sometimes it’s not there. It comes first, but also the bench. It is a kind of collective group of industry, which is kind of like a master effect. Once one guy brings energy, that’s the kind of energy the whole team brings.” — UNC guard RJ Davis, after the Tar Heels beat Portland 89-81 in Thursday’s tournament opener.
“I realized there was too much confidence in the frontline guys. I know that they are the reason that the guys have traditionally played two fronts, and they want to go inside. So I know our guys will be up to the challenge. We’re excited to go out there tomorrow because we’re going to go inside as well, and we have confidence and faith in our guys. We will go in and see what happens. – Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger, against the Tar Heels and battling UNC’s power arm, proposed Bacot around the basket.
Reflecting around: This season began with UNC getting high hopes from UNCW and Charleston College. But maybe the Tar Heels are starting to find their groove on the glass led by the 6-foot-11 Bacot. North Carolina has taken more than 16 boards in its last two games, outrebounding James Madison 50-34 and Portland 39-23.
Bacot’s 11 points and 13 rebounds against Portland on Thursday in the PKI tournament opener marked his second double-double in as many games, following his monster 19-point, 23-rebound effort against JMU. Bacot collected six rebounds against Portland and pulled in fourteen boards on the glass over the last two games. He needs two more rebounds to pass Billy Cunningham (1,062 career rebounds) for fourth all-time in UNC history.
Game Press, check: North Carolina can successfully navigate the snow from its first season. Portland’s past Portland saw the Tar Heels fall behind 64-59 at halftime and the Pilots trail with less than 4½ minutes remaining in the game.
Portland’s 12 made 3-pointers were the most by a UNC opponent this season. Coach Hubert Davis said he was content with the level of intensity from the Tar Heels at times, but pointed out that the game-winners delivered when needed. There were 15 lead changes, the most in a UNC game this season, and he was tied 66 times.
Black’s leaky corner 3-pointer by RJ Davis put UNC ahead to stay at 76-75, and the Tar Heels did enough to survive the period. Bacot snatched a sweet feed from driving Black UNC to a 79-76 lead. Later, Davis drained a jumper to take a breather and take an 86-81 lead with about 25 seconds left.
Here’s how Iowa State got it: Freshman guard Tamin Lipsey made four free throws for the game’s only points in the final 20 seconds of overtime as Iowa State shut out Villanova 81-79 on Thursday at the Fashion Center.
The Big 12 Conference Cyclones entered the half with a 17-1 run and a 51-35 lead, but they couldn’t manage to stop Villanova in regulation. Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer to open overtime put Iowa State ahead to stay. Gabe Kalscheur scored five 3-pointers and 23 points on the bench, which also got 17 points from Osun Osunniyi, and 12 points and nine assists from Jaren Holmes.
Last meeting: Iowa State defeated North Carolina 85-83 in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, a 32nd round matchup in San Antonio. M. Paige’s 19 points and Leslie McDonald’s 18 points led all five UNC starters in double figures. Kennedy Meeks had 15 points and 13 rebounds. DeAndre Kane supplied 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help fuel State.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series 3-1. Three of the four meetings between the Tar Heels and Cyclones have occurred in the NCAA Tournament. UNC is 9-1 all-time in the state of Oregon, including 7-0 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the tournament shifts to Friday after Thursday’s opener at the Moda Center.
UNC Starters projected:
1 Leaky Black (Gr., 6-9, 205) — 9 ppg, 7.4 rpg
2 Caleb Love (Jr., 6-4, 200) — 18.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.4 apg.
4 RJ Davis (Jr., 6-0, 175) — 15.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.4 apg.
5 Armando Bacot (Sr., 6-11, 235) — 16.8 ppg, 12 ppg
32 Pete Nance (Gr., 6-11, 230) — 14 ppg, 4 ppg
First projected Iowa State:
2 Caleb Grill (Sr. 6-3, 200) — 7.3 ppg, 3.5 ppg
3 Tremin Lipsey (Fr., 6-1, 200) — 4.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.8 apg
5 Aljaz Kunc (Sr., 6-8, 225) — 10.5 ppg, 6.8 ppg
13 Jaren Holmes (Sr., 6-4, 210) — 16.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.8 apg.
21 Osun Osunniyi (Sr., 6-10, 235) — 12.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg.
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