EditorsNote: Some minor fixes throughout
Garrison Brooks scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half and his North Carolina teammates finally picked up the scoring pace as the sixth-ranked Tar Heels defeated Alabama 76-67 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday afternoon at Imperial Arena at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
North Carolina used a solid finish to the first half and strong start to the second half to move into control.
Freshmen Cole Anthony and Armando Bacot scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Tar Heels. Bacot also grabbed 15 rebounds for his third straight double-double. North Carolina’s Brandon Robinson, playing in his first game of the season, added 12 points.
North Carolina (5-0) takes on Michigan (5-0), an 83-76 winner against Iowa State in the first game, in Thursday afternoon’s semifinal. Alabama (2-3) goes to the consolation bracket to face Iowa State (3-2) in the evening.
John Petty Jr. (23 points) and Kira Lewis Jr. (20) led Alabama. Other than Petty’s 7-for-10 shooting on 3-pointers, the rest of the Crimson Tide combined to shoot 4 of 21 from long range.
North Carolina scored 14 of the first 19 points of the second half for a 51-36 lead.
Robinson, a senior swingman, played for the first time since a preseason ankle injury. He was in the starting lineup, and made a 3-pointer on his first shot of the season. He had North Carolina’s only 3-pointers in the first half.
Alabama missed 11 of its first 13 shots from the field, yet shortly after was tied at 17-17.
Brooks had 10 of the Tar Heels’ first 21 points.
Anthony had his first four points in North Carolina’s 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 30-22 before Alabama scored the next eight points.
Six of the Crimson Tide’s 12 first-half baskets were 3-pointers, including five by Petty.
North Carolina led 37-31 at halftime benefitting from a 33-17 edge in rebounding. The Tar Heels were hurt by 10 turnovers by that stage.
Brooks’ big first half marked the first time the junior forward ever scored more than 13 points in a half in his college career.
This was the first meeting since North Carolina’s second-round victory in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
—Field Level Media