NASSAU, Bahamas | The No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels used a decided inside advantage, dominating both backboards en route to a 76-67 victory over Alabama in the opening round of the Battle for Atlantis basketball event on Wednesday.
The Tar Heels outrebounded Alabama 60-31. Included in that massive deficit were 23 UNC offensive rebounds leading to 23 second chance points.
“I thought we played them pretty hard outside of the rebounding,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said after the game. “We just couldn’t keep them off the glass. (John) Petty was seven of 10 from (3-point range) and we need him to make more shots so that was a positive.
“They’re a tough team. At times, our rebounding effort was OK but not nearly enough. You can’t get outrebounded by 29 and be pleased with the effort. They didn’t shoot a good percentage but when you rebound half the shots you miss, it doesn’t matter what percentage you shoot.”
Alabama trailed by only three points, 37-34, with 18:49 remaining but a Kira Lewis miss ignited a 14-2 North Carolina run that gave the Tar Heels a comfortable 51-36 lead with 14 minutes remaining.
The Crimson Tide had little answer for North Carolina’s size advantage on the inside. Garrison Brooks, a 6-8 forward from Lanett, equaled a career high with 20 points while 6-10 freshman Armando Bacot added 12 points and 15 rebounds. Cole Anthony, the Tar Heels’ star freshman, had 13 points and four assists.
“We did a pretty good job on Anthony,” Oats said. “It hurt us when Herb (Jones) fouled out, plus I think his elbow was still hurting him.”
Petty led Alabama with 23 points while Lewis added 20.
Alabama will face Iowa State in Thursday’s consolation bracket game at 5:30 p.m. CT. The Cyclones lost to Michigan 83-76 in Wednesday’s first game.