North Carolina and Alabama are expected to be two of the better teams in men’s college basketball this year. Four overtime games should be exciting. Neither of those things seemed true Sunday night as the Tar Heels and the Crimson Tide played an error-filled four-OT game at the Phil Knight Invitational, better known as PK 85.
Alabama defeated UNC 103-101 after four overtimes, giving Tide its first win over the top-ranked team in the polls since 2004. It was the second straight loss for North Carolina, which also smashed the unranked state of Iowa that year was tournament on Friday. While it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if these two teams met on the second or even third weekend of next March’s NCAA tournament, the level of play in clutch situations was lacking on either side before Alabama mercifully took home the win.
Alabama took the No. 4 lead in the final minute of overtime with a beautiful Spanish pick-and-roll that resulted in point guard Jahvon Quinerly hitting big man Charles Bediako for a layup. A weird game got even weirder after that. UNC appeared to take the lead on this Caleb Love floater, but the umpires checked their goalie call and said it was a clean block. Alabama got the ball back because the possession arrow went their way.
Alabama then proceeded to turn the ball over on the subsequent inbound pass:
UNC brought the ball back down with 8.3 seconds left, but the Tar Heels decided to turn it over themselves on the inbounds pass.
UNC fouled, Bama shared his free throws and the Tar Heels missed a final throw to win the game.
The end of the third overtime wasn’t nicer. In a tie with three seconds remaining, Alabama turned it around on the inbounds pass.
UNC did get the ball home – a real feat in the game – but their last possession in third overtime wasn’t much nicer.
Double overtime also ended with poor offensive possession as Quinerly was stuffed by Pete Nance on the potentially game-winning layup attempt.
Viewers weren’t impressed.
Late game execution in this game was, um, not very good. ..: on both sides.
– Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 27, 2022
It’s important to remember that even the top teams in college hoops are still work in progress in November. UNC competed in the national title fight last year and was the #1 preseason in every poll. Nate Oats has built a nice program in Alabama and has a team that should be a factor in the SEC all season. Late game execution will be much better for both teams in a few months.
Alabama is happy about the win even without style points. Carolina feels like they still have work to do after back-to-back losses. Hubert Davis agrees.
Hubert Davis: “Late execution. Something that needs to improve and get better.”
– Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 28, 2022
Next week there will be a new #1 in the polls. The level of play will only go up from here.