Paradise Island, Bahamas — Armando Bacot controlled the paint. Cole Anthony turned in big late-game plays. And along the way, No. 6 North Carolina offered plenty of the toughness that its Hall of Fame coach wanted to see following the team’s first loss.
Anthony hit a driving layup and four key free throws in the final 64 seconds to help the Tar Heels hold off No. 11 Oregon 78-74 in Friday’s third-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The Tar Heels (6-1) were coming off Thursday’s defeat to Michigan in which they trailed at one point by 24 points. This time, UNC looked sharp in building a double-digit lead, then Anthony helped them hang on when the Ducks (6-2) got within a point.
“It was probably a double good feeling because we had a 10-point lead and we got it there with our toughness and our attention to detail,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, adding: “Then all of a sudden it gets to be a one-possession game, and then I liked our toughness after that again.”
Anthony had a baseline drive past Will Richardson with the Tar Heels up 70-69. He then hit four straight free throws to protect the lead in a game that went down to the final seconds. The freshman point guard finished with 19 points despite sitting for a chunk of the second half after picking up his fourth foul.
“I want to win, so whatever that means I’ve got to do – whether I’ve got to get a rebound, got to get a steal, whatever was needed I was going to try to do that for the team.”
Senior Brandon Robinson followed with clinching free throws with 0.8 seconds left.
Bacot had 23 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high six blocks for UNC, strongly patrolling the paint after struggling against Michigan’s size a day earlier in a game that he said left him feeling “like I got my butt whipped.”
“Today coming into the game, I knew I just had to make everything simple and just attack the offensive glass and do the moves we work on every day,” Bacot said.
Payton Pritchard had 19 points to lead Oregon, which nearly erased a third double-digit tournament deficit in as many days. But this time, Pritchard couldn’t connect on a late tying 3 after Anthony’s first two free throws in what amounted to the Ducks’ last best chance.
“We’ve just got to get a little tougher,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I liked our effort. I thought we played as hard as we could. But you’ve got to be more physical on the boards. We took it weak to the basket a few times. You’ve got to really take It strong. We’ve just didn’t finish enough plays.”
Friday's other Top 25 games
► (At) No. 1 Duke 83, Winthrop 70: Freshman Matthew Hurt scored a season-high 20 points, Joey Baker added a career-high 16 and No. 1 Duke beat Winthrop 83-70 on Friday night to bounce back from its stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin.
Playing three nights after the unheralded Lumberjacks became the first Cameron Indoor Stadium visitor from outside the ACC to win in nearly 20 years, the Blue Devils (7-1) spent the better part of this one looking ripe for another upset before Baker saved them.
He hit two dagger 3-pointers 30 seconds apart in the final 3 minutes to put Duke up by double figures to stay and Jordan Goldwire followed with a layup off a steal to give the Blue Devils their largest lead to that point, 78-64, with just under 2 minutes remaining.
Freshman Vernon Carey added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Tre Jones finished with 15 points for Duke.
Hunter Hale scored 11 points to lead Winthrop (4-4), which kept itself within striking distance for about 30 minutes but just couldn’t keep up.
The Eagles trailed just 67-60 in the final 5 minutes following a 3-pointer by Hale but followed that with two empty possessions before Carey’s three-point play was followed by the back-to-back 3s by Baker.
Duke visits No. 3 Michigan State on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
► No. 2 Louisville 71, Western Kentucky 54: In Nashville, Tenn., Jordan Nwora scored 25 points as No. 2 Louisville defeated Western Kentucky 71-54 on Friday to remain unbeaten and make its case for the No. 1 ranking.
There will be a new No. 1 team when the AP Top 25 comes out on Monday because top-ranked Duke fell at home to Stephen F. Austin 85-83 in overtime on Tuesday.
The Cardinals last topped the AP poll on Jan. 14, 2013, and they went on to win the national championship that year.
Dwayne Sutton added 15 points as Louisville (7-0) never trailed while holding Western Kentucky to its lowest point total and shooting percentage (37 percent) of the season. Taveion Hollingsworth scored 16 points for Western Kentucky (6-2), which also got 14 points and nine rebounds from Charles Bassey.
Louisville entered the day ranked third among Division I teams in field-goal percentage (53 percent), while Western Kentucky was fifth at 52.8 percent. Neither team shot nearly that well Friday, but Western Kentucky was particularly cold as it struggled to get easy shots against Louisville’s defense.
Louisville scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 19 points before taking a 37-23 advantage into halftime.
Louisville hosts Michigan on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Friday's Big Ten games
► No. 5 Maryland 80, Harvard 73: In Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 of his 20 in the second half to help Maryland overcome another slow start to remain unbeaten with a win over Harvard in the semifinals of the Orlando Invitational.
Cowan followed up on a 30-point performance in the previous day’s come-from-behind win over Temple with 10 points and an assist during a 12-4 burst that sparked a game-closing surge by the Terrapins (7-0), who have won seven straight to begin a season for the first time in three years.
Jalen Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell and Eric Ayala scored 13 apiece for Maryland, which will play Marquette or USC in Sunday’s championship game at Disney World.
Bryce Aiken led Harvard (5-3) with 30 points.
► DePaul 73, (at) Minnesota 68: Charlie Moore scored 21 points, dished out 12 assists and had five steals on Friday as DePaul defeated Minnesota.
Jalen Coleman-Lands added 11 points for the Blue Demons (8-0), while Paul Reed had 11 points, nine boards and a career-high seven blocked shots.
Daniel Oturu led the Golden Gophers (3-4) with 19 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots. Payton Willis scored 16 points, Alihan Demir added 14 and Gabe Kalscheur chipped in 11.
DePaul led by as much as 11 and kept Minnesota at arm’s length for most of the game, but when an 8-0 Minnesota run cut the Blue Devils’ lead to 65-63, Moore went to work.
► Penn State 85, Syracuse 64: At New York, Lamar Stevens scored 20 points and Mike Watkins had a double-double to lead Penn State past Syracuse in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Watkins finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds, 10 offensive. Myreon Jones had 16 points, Curtis Jones added 14 off the bench, and Seth Lundy scored 10 for Penn State (6-1).
Elijah Hughes led the Orange (4-3) with 19 points and Buddy Boeheim scored 14. Quincy Guerrier had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Marek Dolezaj added 10 points.
►(At) Rutgers 82, UMass 57: Geo Baker had 17 points and four assists and Ron Harper Jr. had 15 points and seven rebounds to lead Rutgers past UMass.
Rutgers (6-1) took the lead for the first time on a layup by Paul Mulcahy with 13:34 remaining in the first half to make it 8-7. UMass (5-3) would retake the lead at 15-13 a couple of minutes later on a 3-pointer by T.J. Weeks. Harper would give Rutgers the lead for good when he hit a layup to make it 21-20 with 6:32 to go in the half.