CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Armando Bacot scored 21 points with 13 rebounds, Caleb Love added 18 points and North Carolina defeated Notre Dame 81-64 on Saturday.
Love and Bacot combined for 25 points in the first half when North Carolina (11-5, 3-2 ACC) built a 13-point lead on its way to its sixth victory in seven games. The Fighting Irish (8-8, 0-5) remained winless in conference play while losing their third straight overall.
Bacot has scored 20 or more points in five straight games, a career first, and has 1,169 career rebounds, one better than Sam Perkins, for second on the Tar Heels’ career list. Tyler Hansbrough is first with 1,219. Bacot’s 58th double-double is two shy of Billy Cunningham’s school record.
RJ Davis added 13 points and Puff Johnson 11.
Nate Laszewski scored 17 points and Dane Goodwin and JJ Starling 10 each for Notre Dame. Goodwin played in his 143rd game for the Irish, a program record.
Notre Dame trailed by double figures throughout the second half until Cormac Ryan hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to seven with 8:25 left. But a minute later Johnson restored the double-digit lead, scoring on a transition dunk during which he was fouled by Ryan and both tumbled to the floor. Ryan, who fell on Johnson, stuck a foot into Johnson’s face and was called for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. Love and Notre Dame’s Dom Campbell were also given technicals as tempers flared after the play.
The Tar Heels led by as many as 18 in the closing minutes.
North Carolina shot 50% in the first half and, combined with five steals and five blocks, took a 41-28 lead behind Love, who had three 3-pointers and 13 points, and Bacot with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Tar Heels hit their season average in points scored, best in the ACC, while allowing nearly 10 fewer than their conference-worst average.
Both teams were without key players who left their previous games with injuries. North Carolina played without 6-foot-11 starter Pete Nance, out with a back issue. Notre Dame was missing key reserve Ven-Allen Lubin, who injured his left ankle.
Notre Dame is home against Georgia Tech and North Carolina is at Virginia in Tuesday games.