GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Armando Bacot had 17 points and 13 rebounds while sparking a second-half surge that helped North Carolina beat No. 22 Virginia Tech 81-73 in Thursday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Freshman RJ Davis added 14 of his season-high 19 points after halftime for the sixth-seeded Tar Heels, including three of his four 3-pointers to set up a matchup with No. 15 Florida State.
Bacot scored 13 of his points after halftime, including a run of 10 in a row as UNC (18-9) used a 11-2 run to break a 49-all tie. Bacot’s flurry included a pair of second-chance baskets, part of the Tar Heels increasing the intensity on the glass to finally assert some control of a tough, physical game.
A night earlier, the Tar Heels had 25 offensive rebounds and 27 second-chance points in a route of Notre Dame. This time, UNC didn’t do its best work until after halftime, pulling down 13 offensive boards and scoring 15 second-chance points.
Bacot finished with nine rebounds in the second half, part of the Tar Heels’ 27-17 edge on the glass in the final 20 minutes.
Justyn Mutts scored a season-high 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting for the third-seeded Hokies (15-6), who were playing their first game since Feb. 27 after having their last two regular-season games canceled due to contact tracing.
Tyrece Radford added 20 for Virginia Tech, which shot 47% and made 8 of 18 3-pointers. But the Hokies went from allowing just two offensive rebounds and two second-chance points in the first half to letting Bacot and Day”Ron Sharpe get loose on the glass as the game wore on.
For UNC, it marked coach Roy Williams’ 903rd career victory, breaking a tie with Bob Knight for third on the Division I men’s list.
UNC: The Tar Heels entered after two straight lopsided wins, first last weekend against rival Duke and then Wednesday against Notre Dame by 42 points — the program’s biggest margin in any ACC Tournament game. Things were tougher for much of the way in this one until Davis had a 3-pointer and then a three-point play on consecutive possessions to start UNC’s decisive push.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies had played just twice in five weeks but were effective offensively and in keeping the Tar Heels off the glass for a half. The Hokies were trying to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2011 and fourth time overall.
UNC: The Tar Heels will face second-seeded Florida State, which advanced when the Seminoles’ quarterfinal matchup with Duke was canceled after the Blue Devils withdrew due to a positive COVID-19 test within their program.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies will wait to learn their NCAA Tournament seeding.
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