PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Garrison Brooks scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half and sixth-ranked North Carolina overwhelmed Alabama on the glass to win 76-67 in Wednesday’s first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Freshman big man Armando Bacot had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Tar Heels (5-0), who entered the game as the nation’s No. 1 team in rebounding margin. They certainly won’t hurt that average with this performance: The Tar Heels nearly doubled the Crimson Tide to finish with a 60-31 edge on the glass, including pulling down 23 offensive rebounds that led to 23 second-chance points.
The Tar Heels didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, finishing at roughly 40.8%. And freshman point guard Cole Anthony didn’t have a huge offensive game. He finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists — including a perfect alley-oop inbounds pass that Brooks hammered down with 3:23 left as the Tar Heels remained in control down the stretch.
John Petty Jr. scored 23 points with seven 3-pointers for the Crimson Tide (2-3), though 15 points and five of those 3s came in the first half. Preseason all-Southeastern Conference pick Kira Lewis Jr. added 20 points, but Alabama shot just 38% for the game.
Leaky Black finished with career highs of nine points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels, who also got 12 points from senior Brandon Robinson in his season debut. Robinson had been sidelined since he sprained an ankle during an exhibition game.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide had been good on the glass coming in despite lacking a lot of size, ranking 19th nationally in rebounding margin and outrebounding each of their first four opponents. They couldn’t keep up this time against the Bacot-led UNC front line, while Petty and Lewis had to carry the offense as the only Alabama players to reach double figures.
UNC: The Tar Heels have been looking for a reliable secondary scorer behind Anthony, who came in averaging better than 22 points per game. Robinson could help with his experience as a senior, while Black had some good moments as an all-around playmaker who also saw time at the point for stretches in relief of Anthony.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide moved to the losers’ bracket for Thursday’s matchup with Iowa State, which lost to Michigan earlier Wednesday.
UNC: The Tar Heels advanced to the winners’ bracket for Thursday’s matchup with Michigan, which beat Iowa State earlier Wednesday.