Feb. 6, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame did it to North Carolina again.
Demetrius Jackson scored 19 points, Bonzie Colson had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and the Fighting Irish rallied to beat the second-ranked Tar Heels 80-76 on Saturday night.
Notre Dame (16-7, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed by 15 late in the first half. It was the first meeting between the schools since the Irish used a 26-3 run to erase a nine-point deficit during a 90-82 victory over the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament final last March.
”It feels great to beat a great team and it feels even better to do the things we had to do to win that game: Good things on the defensive end, which has been a struggle for us,” Jackson said.
It was the second straight loss for the Tar Heels (19-4, 8-2), and Fighting Irish fans celebrated on the court.
The Irish used an 11-2 run in the second half to get even, and a layup by Colson and a jumper for Jackson helped them open a 67-64 lead with 5:31 left. Notre Dame eventually extended the lead to 75-70 on a basket inside by Zach Auguste.
The Tar Heels closed to 77-76 on a pair of free throws by Marcus Paige with 32 seconds left. But Jackson made a pair of free throws and Steve Vasturia added another to help the Irish hold on.
”It was a gritty one. They had to fight and do some tough stuff in the paint defensively,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ”Bonzie and Zach were men tonight. They were pounding against four big bodies that kept coming at them all the time.”
North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who had urged his team during practice to play with more intensity following a loss at Louisville, was disappointed in the effort by the Tar Heels.
”Their coach did a heck of a lot better job of getting his guys to play with a great deal of intensity than I did,” he said. ”I look down there at the stat sheet, 19 points off turnovers for them, zero for us. Twenty-three second-chance points for them, 13 for us. Thirty-eight foul shots for them, 21 for us. I have to do a heck of a lot better job of getting my club to play with a lot more intensity than we did.”
Auguste added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish (16-7, 7-4). Vasturia had 13 points, and V.J. Beachem finished with 10.
”We had to make some stops or we’re going to lose,” Auguste said. ”If we didn’t step up, lock in and be aggressive, they’re probably going to beat us by 20. That didn’t happen. We came down, we had some resiliency and we executed.”
Paige broke out of a six-game shooting slump, finishing with 21 points. Brice Johnson had 14 points and 14 rebounds for North Carolina.
No. 1 Oklahoma also lost, falling 80-69 to Kansas State. According to STATS, it was the first time the top two teams in the country lost to unranked schools on the same day since Jan. 21, 2006, when No. 1 Duke lost to Georgetown and No. 2 Florida was defeated by Tennessee.
Paige said Notre Dame’s smaller lineup caused matchup problems for the Tar Heels.
”We’d like to be able to impose our style on them, but we can’t do that if we can’t guard,” he said. ”Then they had 23 points off of offensive rebounds in the second half which is inexplicable and inexcusable for us.”
Brey credited the crowd with helping the Irish pull off the upset.
”Our crowd was fabulous,” he said. ”That was one of the great nights in our building. You just never were tired and you believed because you had the crowd behind you.”
North Carolina: It was the fourth straight double-double for Johnson and his 13th overall this season. … The Tar Heels have lost their first two games of a three-game road swing. … North Carolina is 3-4 in road games this season. … UNC entered the game making 30.2 percent of its 3-pointers, on pace to be the worst in school history, but was 6 of 12 against the Irish. The record is 32.8 percent, set in 2010-11.
Notre Dame: The Irish have won three straight over North Carolina. Until winning two straight last season, the Irish had never won consecutive games against the Tar Heels. … Notre Dame has beaten a top-10 team at home for eight straight seasons. … Notre Dame entered the game fourth in the nation in turnovers at 9.5 a game. … Jackson now has 1,006 career points, becoming the 58th Notre Dame player to score at least 1,000. … A.J. Burgett, who started the previous two games, sat out after injuring his ankle in practice Friday.
North Carolina visits Boston College on Tuesday.
Notre Dame plays at Clemson on Monday.