NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson each scored 19 points, and No. 5 North Carolina bounced back from a loss to Wofford with a convincing 86-72 victory over Ohio State on Saturday.
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 in the CBS Sports Classic.
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.
C.J. Jackson scored the first 11 points for Ohio State before finishing with 19 for the game, while Kaleb Wesson added 12 points.
North Carolina’s Jalek Felton scored 12 points, joining Johnson in giving the Tar Heels two reserves with 12 or more points.
Felton scored all of his points on 3-point range, from where he went 4 of 5 and from where UNC went 13 of 25.
Luke Maye grabbed 10 rebounds for North Carolina in an all-around performance that included nine points, four assists, two steals and a block.
THE BIG PICTURE
Ohio State: The Buckeyes looked competitive in stints and never led in the game, but still had trouble keeping their deficit under double digits against a UNC squad that had more balanced scoring. Ohio State also struggled with UNC’s physicality and size under the basket. The Tar Heels outrebounded Ohio State 39-25.
North Carolina: A game against Ohio State might have been just what the Tar Heels needed to bounce back from a surprising loss at home to Wofford earlier this week. UNC is 12-2 all-time against the Buckeyes, including a 5-0 mark under coach Roy Williams.
Ohio State has a week off before hosting in-state non-conference foe Miami of Ohio on Dec. 30.
North Carolina also is off until Dec. 30, when the Tar Heels open ACC play at home against Wake Forest.