Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: Ohio State at UNC

Brant Wilkerson-New

Good evening from the Smith Center, where North Carolina and Ohio State will get together for a late-night tip in the final game in the 21st edition of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The game is set for a 9:30 p.m. start on ESPN, and can be streamed here.

The sixth-ranked Buckeyes (7-0) have been dominant this season behind big man Kaleb Wesson and freshman point guard D.J. Carton, while the Tar Heels (6-1) are looking to keep things going after their best performance of the season in a win over Oregon on Friday.

Here's what to watch for tonight as Carolina looks to set the pace against an Ohio State team that is happy to grind things out.

The Tar Heels know what they need to do to get the fast-break going, and Armando Bacot will be key in getting things started with making runs at the Buckeyes' rim off defensive boards.

Cole Anthony and Leaky Black were limited in practice after getting dinged up in the Bahamas, but Garrison Brook is 100 percent and Brandon Robinson is playing some of the best basketball of his Carolina career.

Both Roy Williams and Bacot spoke to media on Tuesday to preview the game.

Check out Twitter for live updates, with deeper analysis and observation posted here throughout the game, and feel free to drop a comment below.

Join the conversation — it's easy — go to the top of the site, click the follow button in the right-hand corner, then log in with either Facebook or Google to discuss the game below.

PREGAME

The usual starters for UNC: Cole Anthony, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks.

FIRST HALF

16:09 — This team truly has the potential to be one of Roy Williams' best defensive groups. Not only can Armando Bacot erase a lot of mistakes at the rim, but he's got great hands down there and stays active.

Whether it happens will be if the Heels get better in their rotations and stop allowing so many open looks from the perimeter.

11:41 — Ohio State leads 20-12, and UNC is again out of sorts offensively.

Armando Bacot went down at the 12:48 mark and was helped off, putting no pressure on his left leg on the way back to the locker room.

The loss of Bacot for any amount of time would be a major loss for a team that needs his post presence on offense and rim protection on the other end.

HALF: Ohio State 29, UNC 27

UNCOH

Apologies for the lack of updates after the Bacot injury. He won't return after rolling his left ankle.

All things considered, managing to keep Ohio State within two points at the half is a victory for UNC at this point.

  • Any offensive momentum that the Tar Heels picked up in the win over Oregon has gone by the wayside. Shots aren't falling, Carolina is laboring in its halfcourt offense and, aside from Cole Anthony, there's no one on the floor that can create their own shot. 
  • Ohio State is a very good defensive team, but at some point, the conversation is going to switch from 'The shots will eventually fall' to 'What does UNC do if the shots don't fall,' because to this point, they haven't. Eight games is a decent sample size to see that this team isn't going to magically become even in the top half of Roy Williams' offenses.
  • On a positive note, Carolina has committed just three turnovers tonight. That's a big step in the right direction.
  • It's hard to quantify Brandon Robinson's impact for this team as a shooter and offensive catalyst. Even when he's not helping space the floor with his jumper, he keeps the ball moving and rarely commits turnovers. 
  • Cole Anthony is apparently sick and trying to gut it out. It's an admirable effort for a team that couldn't survive without him.
  • Forcing 10 turnovers has been vital to help the offense get good shots. For a team struggling in the halfcourt, every primary or secondary break opportunity improves Carolina's chance at success exponentially.
  • Carolina isn't getting nearly enough post touches. Can't expect great looks on the outside when the defense isn't collapsing.
  • Gotta commend the effort after Bacot's departure. The Heels have an uphill climb, but they're playing just as hard as they did against Oregon.

SECOND HALF

15:36 — The offense, aside from Cole Anthony going one-on-one, still lacks flow.

Currently at 15 points, it's going to take a superhuman effort from Anthony to win this one. He'll need 30+.

Buckeyes lead 39-36.

10:42 — Things are very bad for UNC as Ohio State leads 54-40 and Roy Williams is about to put Brandon Huffman and Shea Rush into the game. 

Offense is a disaster. Defense trending down in the second half.

7:59 — At the least, Carolina's reserve lineup has given the Heels a spark with their effort. Might not be enough to win, but should be a lesson for the starters as they watch from the bench.

Since going to the Smith, Keeling, Rush, Pierce, Huffman/Miller lineup, UNC is +3 with three turnovers forced/two charges drawn.

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