CHAPEL HILL, NC—Freshman Caleb Love had a season-high 20 points, Armando Bacot scored 14 of his 18 in the second half, and North Carolina beat Wake Forest 80-73 on Wednesday night.
RJ Davis scored 13 points, Garrison Brooks 10, and Leaky Black added eight points, six rebounds and eight assists for North Carolina (9-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Bacot, who made 8 of 10 from the field, hit a jumper to spark a 12-0 run that made it 45-35 and the Tar Heels never again trailed. Wake Forest’s Daivien Williamson and Jalen Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make 53-all with 10 minutes to play, but Bacot answered with a layup and his dunk with 4:45 left gave North Carolina a 10-point lead. Williamson and Isaiah Mucius each scored a career-high 27 points for Wake Forest (3-6, 0-6). Mucius, who went into to the game shooting 16.7% (4 of 24) from 3-point range, made a career-high seven 3s on 12 attempts.
The first half featured nine lead changes and seven ties before the Demon Deacons took a 33-31 lead into the break. North Carolina shot 55% (17 of 31) from the field, made 15 of 21 from the free-throw line, and scored 26 of its 36 points in the paint after halftime.
Wake Forest, which has lost six in a row, shot 39% overall and committed 20 turnovers.
Love, a highly-touted guard from CBC, had struggled in December after scoring at least 16 points in two of his first three games for the Tar Heels. His 7-12 shooting line Wednesday was also a career high.
“I like the fact he took some jump shots with confidence,” Head Coach Roy Williams said afterward. “I think he’s getting a little bit better each day, just got to keep getting him opportunities…He’s a freshman, who knows what freshman are thinking all the time….he’s coming to practice every day, he’s trying hard.”
Williams praised Love’s work ethic, noting that he recently went back out on the floor long after a recent game to work on his shot.
It’s a practice Love repeated late Wednesday night.