Boston College basketball battled #9 UNC all afternoon long at Conte Forum, but in the end could never overtake the Tar Heels.
Despite 33 points from BC’s Ky Bowman, North Carolina secured a 90-82 win to improve to 18-3 (6-1 ACC). The Eagles fell to 9-11 (2-5 ACC), suffering their second home loss of the week against ranked competition.
UNC's ability to get to the line proved critical, with the Tar Heels going 24-for-27 at the line compared to BC's 6-for-7. Reinforcing UNC's edge inside the paint, the Heels outrebounded BC 43-31.
Roy Williams pointed to UNC’s rebounding in the second half as key to their victory, saying he put a focus on that at halftime. “In the second half we outrebounded them by 12, which gave us a 10 point advantage in the paint in the second half."
Bowman’s dynamic play in the first half kept the game competitive while his teammates warmed up. Bowman scored 21 of BC’s 33 first half points as the rest of the team went cold. Bowman’s performance allowed the Eagles to head in to the locker room down just 34-33.
“In a game like this where there’s going to be transition, Bowman is going to be really good,” said Christian. “He’s a catalyst.”
Bowman’s teammates stepped up in the second half, but UNC proved too much to overcome - particularly Justin Jackson, who torched the Eagles last year at Conte too. Jackson had 21 in a strong performance, including some critical baskets halfway through the second that put the kibosh on a few BC comeback attempts.
“Justin Jackson might be the most improved player in the ACC,” said Christian. “Those threes he hit from deep - he didn’t have that consistently last year.”
Williams was full of praise postgame for both Jim Christian as well as BC’s Tobacco Road-rooted backcourt of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman.
“Jimmy [Christian]’s done a great job with this team,” Williams said. “[Bowman and Robinson] can score. They're both athletic, they're quick, they can jump - and they can score. Kenny Williams really thought he had Robinson covered, and he pulled up and hit a three right in his face.”
During the second half, Williams said he needed to shift to a smaller lineup to match BC’s speed and ability to score - mitigating the Tar Heels’ size advantage in the paint.
“When [UNC] get small, they’re really athletic on defense, and that creates problems,” said Christian. “We had a tougher time guarding them when they went small.”
Both teams were shooting hot when they matched up smaller lineups, with UNC able to match every BC surge to secure the victory. Today’s performance continued the Heels’ strong stretch on offense; it was the first time in program history that the Tar Heels topped 85 points in 6 straight ACC games.
“Hopefully our basketball team is maturing so we can do this on a consistent basis,” said Christian. “We were immature against Virginia, but we played a mature basketball game today.”
BC heads to the road for two next week, with their next game coming Wednesday night at Miami.