Spot analysis: UNC call spirited effort, beats Ohio State in the OT

NEW YORK – North Carolina is no longer looking for a meaningful non-conference victory over a major opponent. The Tar Heels summoned a spirited effort and upset 23rd-ranked Ohio State 89-84 in overtime Saturday afternoon at the CBS Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, with Pete Nance playing hero at the regulation buzzer to give UNC leadership new life in the extra period. .

Ohio State’s Bryce Sensabaugh sank a jumper over Leaky Black in the lane to put the Buckeyes up 79-77 with two seconds left in regulation. This seemed like a game-winning bucket and denying the inspired drive to rally the second half from an 11-point deficit.

But Nance came to the rescue, pinning the hooked jumper over Sensabau to send the game into overtime. On an out-of-bounds side with 1.2 seconds left, Black crossed to Nance, who got a shot from a break of a second before the horn.

And the people who packed this iconic building were on their feet — everyone was up — enjoying what it felt like to have an NCAA Tournament game on the second weekend of the Big Dance.

UNC trailed from 10 to 68-58 in the last 6 minutes of regulation. Armando Pacote boosted the Tar Heels’ 28 points and 15 rebounds (8-4). Caleb Love had 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds, and RJ Davis had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Nance finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. Davis drained a backup three-pointer from dribbling to jump ahead 75-74 with 1:29 to go in regulation, the Tar Hills’ first lead since going 14-12 in the first 7 minutes of the game, and one of many defining moments down the stretch.

Freshman Sensabu scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Ohio State (7-3). Bruce Thornton had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Judge Swing had 16 points and nine rebounds. The Buckeyes built a 14-point lead in the first half and 11 points in the second half.

Ohio State led 44-35 at halftime, after a tough first half finish by North Carolina forward Buff Johnson. Swing used his body and scored over Johnson in the lane within the last 30 seconds. Then, with a few precious seconds left, Swing simply pulled out of the dribble to punch a three-pointer over the retreating Johnson.

UNC had an early 11-1 lead to lead 13-8. Later in the first half, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 34-20 lead, riding an 18-2 blowout during part of that stretch.

Carolina blue in the garden

A decidedly pro-UNC crowd urged Tar Heels here at Madison Square Garden. It was a big-city vibe with a blocky building that looked similar to what UNC fed in Philadelphia last season during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Early in the second half, Bacot made a sly feed from Love around Ohio State linebacker, calling Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann a timeout with the Tar Heels at 10-2 after coming off halftime. That evocative moment had Bacot, Leaky Black, and Pete Nance relaxing and screaming along with excited UNC supporters.

Armando Pacote snaps

The first half was eventful for Paco, who went to the bench 72 seconds into the game after making his first foul, then stayed there for the full six minutes of game time as coach Hubert Davis brought in Puff Johnson, Tyler Nickell, Seth Trimble and Dontrez Styles from On the bench during the early going.

Bacot didn’t score until the 10:45 mark of the first half, but he recovered from that asynchronous start pumping in 10 consecutive points via a quick 2:16 stretch, pulling UNC within a 36-30 Ohio State lead and igniting the Tar Heel fans here at famous square.

Backout finished the first half with 16 points and five rebounds. Meanwhile, Ki had four points and two rebounds off the break.

Next on the schedule

North Carolina State meets another Big Ten opponent Michigan to complement the non-conference portion of the regular season schedule. It’s Wednesday night’s game at the Jumpman Invitational at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

The Tar Heels edged Michigan 72-51 last December, blowing out the Smith Center in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

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