Armando Baco’s record-setting night helped UNC basketball beat NC State

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North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (5) steals the ball from NC State’s DJ Burns Jr. (30) during the first half of NC State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 .

ehyman@newsobserver.com

As one star rose, another set could change the season.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot had a scoring drive in an 80-69 victory Saturday against NC State at the Dean E. Smith Center in a game marred by what looked like a serious injury to Wolfpack leading scorer Terkavion Smith.

Bakot, a senior forward from Richmond, Va., had 23 points and 18 rebounds to pass Billy Cunningham for his 61st double-double in program history. He also passed Tyler Hansbrough for the program’s career rebounding leader.

Bakot needed 17 to beat Hansbrough entering the game and did so on a layup by Ebenezer Davuona with 6:57 left, drawing applause from the Smith Center crowd.

It was a completely different sound just three minutes ago. The crowd was silent as they watched as Smith was placed on a stretcher and lifted off the floor.

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Wolfpack teammates watch as NC State’s Terquavion Smith is carried off the floor after being injured during the second half of NC State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

With 9:45 left, Leakey Black fouled Smith while lying down and hit him in the head. Smith lost his balance and appeared to land awkwardly on his elbow. UNC staff, including track and field coach Doug Halverson, secured his right arm before placing him on a stretcher.

Smith’s neck was also in a sling when he was picked up from the floor. The game stopped for about 11 minutes of real time.

When play resumed, Black was flagged for flagrant foul 2 and sent off. The Pack took advantage of free throws and possession to cut the deficit to 10 points to 59-53.

Without their leading scorer, who became the center of the attack, the “Packet” did not score for four minutes. Carolina’s shooting wasn’t much better, going five minutes between Black’s dunk and Arjay Davis’ layup.

The difference is that the Hills kept getting to the free throw line even as they missed shots. UNC went on a 7-0 run, hitting all of its free throws, including a flagrant 1 on Casey Morsell when his hand hit Caleb Love in the face as he lay down.

Armed with a 66-53 lead with 6:09 left, the Heels kept control of the game until the end.

Davis led the Hills with 26 points on just 5-for-8 shooting, but he was perfect on 14 free throws.

Jerkel Joyner and DJ Burns led the pack with 18 points each.

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NC State’s RJ Davis (4) rushes for the ball with NC State’s Jarkel Joyner (1) during the first half of NC State’s game against UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC, Saturday, January 21, 2023. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

Burns was the boost the Pack needed on offense. The 6-foot-9 forward bullied UNC big men Pete Nance and Jalen Washington as they tried to stop the 275-pound forward from getting to the right spot.

Burns scored nine points in the first half on 4-for-6 shooting and helped pick up two fouls on Bako that sent him to the bench. Burns was so effective in scoring that the Hills started duplicating him.

When they did, his quick outlet passes forced Carolina defenders to scramble, and Morsell knocked down a pair of open 3-pointers.

Everything changed in the second half.

Burns picked up two fouls 36 seconds apart and picked up his fourth with 12:45 left. Burns sat out for six minutes before returning. But the Hills’ lead was too much to overcome.

This story was originally published January 21, 2023 at 7:27 p.m.

CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown has more than two decades of reporting experience, including as a beat writer at Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stint at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he won an APSE award, he checked in at ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.



Armando Baco’s record-setting night helped UNC basketball beat NC State

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