CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – No. 9 North Carolina withstood a career performance by Ky Bowman, a former Tar Heel football commitment, to hold off Boston College, 90-82, on Saturday.
Bowman, a Havelock, N.C. native, committed to play football at North Carolina, complete with an opportunity to walk onto the Tar Heels’ basketball team, in 2014. East Carolina was his lone basketball scholarship offer at the time, but his love for the round ball won out as his offer list grew to include several major conference programs.
Nearly three years after committing to the UNC football program, Bowman exploded against the Tar Heels in the first half at Conte Forum, scoring 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting (5-of-7 3-pointers) to keep the Eagles within 34-33 at the break.
"I'm going to tell Larry [Fedora] he needs to do a daggum better job of recruiting," Roy Williams joked in his postgame press conference.
The Tar Heels built a 27-17 lead midway through the first half before Bowman heated up, scoring 10 unanswered points to tie the game at 27-27 with 3:47 to play before halftime. The freshman guard tied his career high with 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting (7-of-9 3FG).
Bowman’s contributions were offset by a season-high eight turnovers.
Tar Heel Tandem Provides Offense
Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson combined for an inside-out approach that netted 42 combined points on 15-of-32 shooting. Jackson continued his scoring tear in ACC play, pacing UNC with 22 points on 6-of-16 shooting (3-of-6 3FG). Meeks turned in his second 20-point performance of the season, scoring 20 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Another North Carolina native, Boston College sophomore guard Jerome Robinson, entered Saturday’s contest ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.7 ppg). Roy Williams employed a rotation of defenders on the Eagles’ leading scorer, ranging from Kenny Williams to Nate Britt to Justin Jackson.
The approach worked early as Robinson was a nonfactor in the first half, scoring five points on 2-of-5 shooting in the first half. The Broughton High School standout found some rhythm after halftime, scoring 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
Robinson finished with 18 points (7-21 FG), three rebounds and three assists.
Standout Plays of Note
After Mo Jeffers cut UNC’s lead to 68-65 with 5:29 to play, Theo Pinson delivered back-to-back offensive rebounds and putbacks to push the lead back to seven points. Two possessions later, Pinson secured another offensive rebound that yielded a pair of Isaiah Hicks free throws.
Tony Bradley returned to the lineup after missing UNC’s last two games with a concussion. The freshman forward practiced on Wednesday and Friday before logging 11 minutes against the Eagles and scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.
Bradley told reporters after the game it took nearly a week to work through UNC's concussion protocol before being cleared to play. He does not remember his head bouncing off the floor at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 11.
"If I would have never seen the replay, I would have never remembered," Bradley said. "That was my first time blacking out like that. It's weird because I was out like that (snaps fingers) and don't remember anything. I remember that night asking the trainer what happened walking to the locker room. I was like, 'Why are we walking to the locker room? Is is halftime? Why is no one else in the locker room? What's going on?' It was crazy."
ACC Scoring Record
UNC has scored 85 points or more in six straight ACC games for the first time in school history.
UNC returns home for a matchup with Virginia Tech on Thursday (8 p.m./ESPN). The Hokies are 14-4 (3-3 ACC) in Buzz Williams’s third season in Blacksburg.