UNC basketball gets first road win with 80-59 rout of Louisville

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, right, had a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds against Louisville.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, right, had a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds against Louisville.


North Carolina found out the difference between being inconvenienced and being shorthanded on Saturday against Louisville.

The Tar Heels anticipated potentially being down two starters, and forward Pete Nance missed his third straight game with a back injury. Puff Johnson started in his place and scored double figures for the second time in three games with 12 points.

Guard D’Marco Dunn also contributed a career-high 14 points coming off the bench as the Heels rolled to an 80-59 victory in the KFC Yum! Center. It was their first road win of the season.

Carolina (12-6, 4-3 ACC) has answers on its roster that the hapless Cardinals (2-16, 0-7) just don’t have.

For all the consternation about UNC’s Armando Bacot’s sprained left ankle suffered against Virginia, he showed no signs of being injured against the Cards. Bacot secured a double-double in the first half, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.

It likely would have been more but he picked up his second foul with five minutes left and sat the remainder of the half.

Bacot said before the season he wanted to embrace being a villain on the road. He got that chance in the KFC Yum! Center, where many fans believe he got away with physical play last season in Carolina’s overtime win. They frequently booed his fouls, missed shots and turnovers early on.

He again left town with a victory in his 14-point, 16-rebound performance. It marked the 20th game in Bacot’s career that he had 15 or more rebounds.

Carolina closed the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 37-26 lead into halftime. When it extended the lead to 16 after a pair of 3s from Johnson mixed in with a steal and dunk from Leaky Black, the Cards never challenged again.

Cards guard El Ellis, who went to Durham’s Quality Education Academy, got off to a hot start, scoring 11 of their first 15 points. None of the UNC defenders who were put on him initially could keep him out of the lane.

He was fouled attacking the baskets three separate times and scored six points from the free-throw line in the first seven minutes of the game.

That changed for Ellis when Dunn got the defensive assignment. Dunn contained Ellis’ drives and twice got the better of him on 3-point attempts.

Ellis had a 3-pointer wiped off when officials said he kicked out his leg and fell to initiate contact. Dunn also got a partial block on an Ellis’ 3 late in the shot clock, as he was scoreless the rest of the half.

Ellis, who scored 25 in last season’s overtime loss in Louisville to the Heels, finished with 22 points on 6-for-16 shooting.

C.L. Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as the beat writer on Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he earned an APSE award, he’s had stops at ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.

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