With a one point loss three weeks ago serving as a reminder, Louisville didn’t slip up again vs North Carolina, beating the Tar Heels 78-68 in overtime behind a huge game from Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier.
North Carolina were on a six-game winning streak going into #10 Louisville, a streak that began with a one point win over the Cardinals on January 10. The Tar Heels could have been sharing the lead for the conference with a win in Louisville but despite leading by 18 points early in the second after scoring the first seven points in the period, they allowed Harrell with the help of guards Rozier and Chris Jones to dominate the glass which earned the win for Louisville, and will cost North Carolina some poll points, probably dropping them from #13.
Louisville outscored North Carolina 28-24 in the paint, the second fewest points the Tar Heels have scored this season in the paint. It’s also just the second time this season North Carolina have been outscored in the paint (win over Florida was the previous time). Harrell alone scored 16 of his 22 points in the paint. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, 8 of them off the offensive glass, helping him go 11 times to the line (making just six shots).
Harrell was so dominant that North Carolina grabbed just two offensive rebounds in the second half and overtime, getting 0 second chance points. For a team that averages 15.1 points a game through leavings, which is the most in the nation heading into the game among major conferences, the drop off from 11 points and 11 offensive boards in the first half to nothing in the second was too difficult to overcome.
Aside from Harrell there was Rozier with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Chris Jones finished with 17 points and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. North Carolina shot only 55% from the line and were led by Marcus Paige with 15 points. J.P. Tokoto scored 11 points and finished with a double double, adding 10 rebounds. Brice Johnson was limited to just two points and Kennedy Meeks couldn’t make too much of a difference, scoring just 9 points.
But the road doesn’t get easier for North Carolina. With five losses, they are the only team in the top 10 of the BPI with four losses or more. They have the fourth-hardest remaining schedule in the nation, according to BPI, with four remaining games against teams ranked in the top 11 of BPI. That includes playing twice against Duke, at home against Virginia and on the road against Miami.