North Carolina Use Dominant 2nd Half Performance to Rout No. 24 Michigan

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 2, 2021

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 01: Caleb Love #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after making a three-point basket against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on December 01, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

North Carolina hasn't quite figured out how to solve its road woes, but staying in Chapel Hill has been a road to success for first-year coach Hubert Davis.

Caleb Love scored 22 points and Dawson Garcia added 14, as the Tar Heels turned in a dominant second-half performance on their way to a 72-51 win over No. 24 Michigan in the 2021 Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Ahead by just two at halftime, North Carolina turned up the pressure on both ends and never trailed after the break. The Heels are now 4-0 under Davis at the Dean Smith Center.

Playing its first traditional road game of the season, Michigan could not find an offensive rhythm as it fell to a disappointing 4-3. Moussa Diabate led the way with 13 points and Eli Brooks scored 11.

Notable Stats

North Carolina

G Caleb Love: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
F Dawson Garcia: 14 points, 4 rebounds
F Armando Bacot: 11 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks


F Moussa Diabate: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block
G Eli Brooks: 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Juwan Howard Has Long Road Ahead

Michigan's young rotation looked afraid of the limelight Wednesday night. The Wolverines finished shooting just 35.1 percent from the floor and were embarrassed on both ends of the court in the second half. 

Ranked as the No. 3 recruiting class in the country coming into this season, things have not been pretty when Michigan has been tested against good competition. Touted freshman forward Caleb Houstan has been a major disappointment, so much so that Howard should consider moving him to the reserve unit. Diabate played himself into more rotation time with a solid performance, and lineups featuring the two freshman bigs and center Hunter Dickinson have not fared well this season.

Transfer DeVante' Jones has also not packed nearly the scoring punch he did during his career at Coastal Carolina.

It's clear this is somewhat of a foundational year for Howard, with none of the freshmen looking like instant-impact stars. That said, this was a team that was ranked No. 6 in the country coming into this season. The results have to be better than what they've been so far.

Hubert Davis Off to Solid Start

It's fair to say Davis wasn't a particularly inspired choice to replace Roy Williams. A job of North Carolina's caliber opening typically leads to some of the most prominent names in coaching being linked. Davis was a longtime loyal assistant with Carolina ties, now getting the opportunity to prove himself in the main job.

So far, so good on the court.

The coach has spent much of his first seven games tinkering with the rotation in hopes of finding a good mix and may have finally reached the correct formula in the second half. Four of North Carolina's five starters had at least nine points, and Davis gave only seven players significant playing time.

The Heels added only two recruits in their 2021 class, so this is going to be an uphill battle of a season. It just may wind up being one that Davis and his group of veteran leaders make far more interesting than expected.