New Orleans – Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II viewed North Carolina’s recent upset loss to Wofford as a test of their leadership.
The seniors provided a convincing response in a neutral-site, made-for-TV matchup against Ohio State.
Berry and Pinson each scored 19 points, and No. 5 North Carolina bounced back with an 86-72 victory over the Buckeyes on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.
“Any team should have a great amount of focus after a loss,” Pinson said. “I was just ready to come out and step up for my teammates.”
Pinson scored six points on flawless free throw shooting inside the final 1:06 of the game as the Tar Heels (11-2) kept the Buckeyes (10-4) at bay.
“We’ve got veteran guys who know we can’t sulk,” Pinson said. “We need to move on to the next game, but at the same time, keep that loss in our minds.”
Cameron Johnson — a graduate transfer from Pittsburgh whose recent debut was delayed by injuries — scored 13 points in just his second game for North Carolina, which had 13 3-pointers.
Keita Bates-Diop had 26 points — one point shy of his career high — for Ohio State. He shot 10 of 17 for the game and scored 19 points in the second half, including eight straight for Ohio State during a late 13-4 run that briefly pulled the Buckeyes within 78-69 with 1:10 to play.
In the first half, Bates-Diop played just 8 minutes because of a couple of quick fouls, and that helped Carolina take its first double-digit lead before halftime.
“When you’re losing a guy as important to us as Keita is, you’re going to feel it, and we felt it,” said Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who was called for a technical foul during the first half. “I’m sure that was a factor in them stretching the lead.”
C.J. Jackson scored the first 11 points for Ohio State before finishing with 19 for the game, while Kaleb Wesson added 12 points.
“My teammates found in the right spots, pretty much,” Jackson said, adding he was “just kind of taking what the defense gave me at the beginning.”
North Carolina’s Jalek Felton scored 12 points, joining Johnson in giving the Tar Heels two reserves with 12 or more points.
Felton “came in and gave them a big lift,” Holtmann said.
Luke Maye grabbed 10 rebounds for North Carolina in an all-around performance that included nine points, four assists, two steals and a block.
More Big Ten
(At) Minnesota 95, Florida Atlantic 60: Senior guard Nate Mason scored 17 points but missed most of the second half with an ankle injury. Mason, the Gophers’ second-leading scorer and a first-team all-Big Ten pick last year, went to the floor early in the second half after getting tangled up in traffic. After a visit from the trainer, he was helped off the court but didn’t put any weight on his left ankle.
However, Minnesota appears to have dodged a bullet — after Mason underwent an MRI on Saturday night, the team announced his status as “day-to-day” with a sprained ankle. Still, coach Richard Pitino acknowledged that losing Mason’s leadership and productivity would be a tough pill to swallow.
“You don’t just replace Nate Mason,” Pitino said. “I thought he was really good (Saturday) — 17 points in 21 minutes, he was efficient, he was defending and showing great leadership.”
Jordan Murphy scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Minnesota (11-3), extending the nation’s longest double-double streak to 14 games. The junior co-captain said Mason was in good spirits after the game despite the injury.
“Nate’s the type of dude who when something like that happens, he just wants to deal with it on his own,” Murphy said. “We’re going to be there for him for anything he needs.”
Gerdarius Troutman led the Owls (6-6) with 18 points, while Ronald Delph scored 17 and Jailyn Ingram had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
(At) Wisconsin 81, Green Bay 60: Freshman guard Brad Davison scored a game-high 18 points and junior forward Ethan Happ added 14 to pace Wisconsin to an 81-60 nonconference win over Green Bay on Saturday night.
The victory boosted the Badgers to a 20-0 record against their intrastate rivals.
Davison, a true freshman, scored 13 first-half points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Happ shot 7 of 9 from the field and had 8 rebounds to lift the Badgers (6-7) to their second straight win.
The Phoenix (5-8) went without a field goal — missing nine tries — over the final 11:42 of the first half. Green Bay senior guard Khalil Small scored baskets on consecutive possessions to trim Wisconsin’s lead to 44-24 at the break.
UCLA 83, No. 7 Kentucky 75: At New Orleans, Aaron Holiday capped a 20-point performance with a pivotal driving scoop and two free throws in the final 33 seconds for UCLA.
Kris Wilkes also scored 20 points, and Thomas Welsh added 13 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA (9-3), which won for the seventh time in 15 meetings between these historical college basketball powerhouses.
Hamidou Diallo scored 18 points and Wenyen Gabriel added a season-high 16 points for Kentucky (9-2), which lost for the first time in eight games.
(At) No. 10 West Virginia 86, Fordham 69: Jevon Carter and Sagaba Konate had double-doubles to lead West Virginia.
The Mountaineers (11-1) started out a little sluggish in the first half, unable to prevent Fordham runs over the first 7 minutes of the game but they were able to lead by 16 with 4 minutes left in the half.
Carter had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists while Konate had 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Mountaineers won their 11th straight.
Daxter Miles Jr. led the Mountaineers with 21 pointsa and Lamont West added 15.
Will Tavares led Fordham (5-7) with 18 points and seven rebounds.
No. 21 Tennessee 79, (at) Wake Forest 60: Jordan Bowden scored 17 points and Tennessee shot 59 percent after halftime.
The Volunteers (9-2) led by one at the half but took control by scoring on seven of 10 possessions coming out of the break. That pushed Tennessee to a 52-43 lead, a margin that never slipped to fewer than five as the Demon Deacons struggled for a sustained push.
Keyshawn Woods scored 18 points for the Demon Deacons (7-5), who had won six straight.
(At) No. 23 Seton Hall 74, Manhattan 62: Angel Delgado scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, Khadeen Carrington scored 15 and Desi Rodriguez added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Seton Hall.
The victory was the seventh in eight games for the Pirates (11-2).
Myles Powell had 13 points for Seton Hall before he was ejected in an altercation right before halftime. Michael Nzei had 10 points to give the Pirates five players in double figures.
The Jaspers (5-7) were led by Zane Waterman who had 18 points.