#1 basketball UNC falls to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational

Experience that should have helped No. 1 North Carolina in tough games didn’t help in a 70-65 loss to Iowa State on Friday in the Phil Knight Invitational.

The Tar Heels (5-1) held a 61-58 lead as senior forward Armando Bacot committed turnovers on three straight possessions while being put into position as a ball carrier catching a pass.

The Cyclones (5-0) took advantage of all three thanks to guard Caleb Grill, who scored 31 points. Grill hit the three-pointer – his seventh career game – to tie the game. Then he scored on a jumper to take the lead with 1:39 to go.

Carolina looked offensively insecure down the stretch as Caleb Love missed a 3-pointer from the right corner and a layup attempt on a subsequent possession.

Iowa State held the Heels to just 36% shooting in the second half and really disrupted their offensive flow with a 1-3-1 zone.

It looked like the Heels would get past it as they took a lead on a 10-0 run that was capped off with piecemeal play. Leaky Black rebounded a missed free throw by Bacot. Bacot got the ball back and found Pete Nance with a jumped pass to left field for Nance’s first three-pointer of the game.

When Black broke the Cyclones’ zone for an assist on a Bacot layup, Carolina led 55-47 with 6:23 left.

Iowa State entered the game shooting just 27.4 percent from 3-point range, which was among the worst in all of Division I. That was not the case against the Heels.

The Cyclones were led by Grill, who epitomized their struggles as he made just 4 of 24 3-pointers in his first four games. The senior guard hit four 3s in the first half and the team shot 6-for-13.

Grill had a chance to give Iowa State its first lead since 5-2 on the final pitch of the half. But his 3-point attempt was long and UNC took a 34-32 lead into the locker room.

The match between Bacot and the Cyclones’ Osun Osunniyi never materialized. Osunniyi, who was the second leading scorer averaging 12.8 points, was fouled twice in the first 90 seconds of the game and was limited to just five minutes in the first half.

He never got into much movement when he played in the second half.

With Osunniyi out, Bacot faced a rotation of Iowa State bigs. But again, he could rarely operate without another player running at him for a double team.

Bacot played more aggressively than Portland on Thursday and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

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