The duo of Pete Nance and Caleb Love led the UNC basketball program to a victory in the opening round of the Phil Knight Invitational.
Even though it was stressful throughout, the UNC basketball program found a way to pick up a victory against Portland in the Phil Knight Invitational opening round.
In a contest that featured a ton of back-and-forth action, momentum swings were a major factor in this one.
North Carolina got off to a great start, creating an 18-8 lead. However, Portland was not going to fold, as they quickly worked their way back into the game.
Leading by just two at the half, the Tar Heels did have to battle back multiple times over the final 20 minutes of play, including a stretch of seven consecutive lead-changing possessions to begin the second half.
Caleb Love got the Tar Heels going early and often, as he scored 16 first-half points. He reached the 1,000-point mark with his second basket of the day, an emphatic dunk (which was the perfect way for him to surpass the milestone), as he finished with 23 points while making 10 of his 15 shot attempts.
As good as Love was, you can make the case that Pete Nance was the difference in this one. This was by far his best performance of his early Tar Heel career, as he tied a career-high with 28 points. He was lethal from beyond the arc, as he knocked down five of his eight attempts.
All five starters scored in double-figures, as the Tar Heels once again did not get much production from the bench. Armando Bacot recorded his 51st career double-double, while Leaky Black was just a rebound shy of his own double-double performance (11 points, 9 rebounds).
Although he was just 4-11 from the field, RJ Davis arguably made the biggest shot of the game. His long-range jumper was the “dagger,” as this bucket officially put the game out of reach.
Give credit to Portland, as they certainly gave the Tar Heels a run for their money. They shot the ball very well, as it felt like they had an answer every time North Carolina did something productive on the offensive end.
Was it a dominant victory? Not by any means. However, it’s important to remember that it’s early in the season yet.
It takes time to gel, even with a good amount of players returning from a season ago. Forget about the rankings: be grateful that they are 5-0, as they’ve found a way to work through some struggles to pick up victories.
You won’t have to wait long for some more UNC basketball, as the Tar Heels will battle Iowa State in the next…