Madison Square Garden—-UNC Hubert Davis gave one of his Knute Rockne’s speeches at halftime and turned the North Carolina Pussycats into Men of Troy.
“Coach just called us soft,” said Armando Bacot, the Tar Heels’ senior center. “In the first half, we were getting punked. We were giving up a lot of offensive rebounds and they were doing what they wanted to do. In the second half, we wanted to lock in and throw some punches.”
Playing in the World Famous Arena, North Carolina defeated No. 23 Ohio State 89-84 could become the game that turns around the Tar Heels’ shaky season.
Down 79-77 with over one second left in the game, coach Jeff Lebo took the whiteboard from Tar Heels assistant Brad Frederick and drew up a play that was similar to something he watched Penn State pull off earlier this season in a game against Clemson.
Here’s the kicker: It was a play the Tarheel players had never practiced before or seen before.
Pete Nance’s fallaway jump shot on the left elbow as time expired sent North Carolina in overtime against the Buckeyes on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. That play was the talked of the night.
“Lebo said he saw it like on TV or something like that,” Tar Heels Armando Bacot, who had a season-high 28 points, said in the press conference.”
Yankees general Manager Brian Cashman was sitting courtside blending in with the 20,261 mostly Carolina fans.
The Buckeyes was by 11 points (66-55) with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, but NC inserted a full-court press that forced the Buckeyes into turning the ball which turned into a 15-6 run that cut the lead to a point (71-70) with 3:58 to play in the contest.
North Carolina would take their first lead (75-74) since the early part of the opening half on a long three by RJ Davis with 1:29 to play in regulation.
Ohio State would make a run with under a minute to play, as Zed Key drained his second triple of the game to retake the lead, 77-75, with 31 seconds to go.
Freshmen Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton both had season-highs to lead four Buckeyes in double figures. Sensabaugh had 22 points and Thornton chipped in 17 points and five assists. Justice Sueing finished with 16 points and Zed Key had 11 on 2-of-3 from deep.
In the overtime frame UNC played with a sense of urgency, the Buckeyes never led, seeing themselves outscored 10-5 in the extra time. Ohio State had an attempt at tying the game in the waning seconds, but could not a buy a bucket, and North Carolina sealed the contest with a pair of free throws from Davis.
“It was a big time game,” Bacot said. “We were talking about it before y’all got in here. That was probably the best game we all ever played in. It was just so electric and then for it to be in the Garden with so many fans. There’s like a huge North Carolina presence. It was crazy.”
The Buckeyes will return home and host Maine on Wednesday, Dec. 21 before breaking for Christmas. The game is set for an 8:30 p.m. tip on BTN.
UNC will be home Dec. 21 and will play Michigan for a 7 P.M. start time.