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.
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.