North Carolina scores vs. Iowa State, the takeaway: no. 1 Tar Heels beat Cyclones in Phil Knight Invitational

Portland, OR – Caleb got ahead – but not That Caleb. Iowa State senior Caleb Grill had the best game of his life as he scored a career-high 31 points and led Iowa State to a 70-65 second-half victory over No. 2 . 1 Friday in North Carolina Phil Knight Invitational semifinals.

Meanwhile, Tar Heels star Kyler Love scored 12 points, but had only three in the second half. A UNC team that has been on fire with close games against middling primary opponents is finally burned by failing to execute the offense against the Tar Heels (5-1), the first power conference opponent of the season .

Iowa State was 2-22 two seasons ago and is off to a 5-0 start for the second straight season under second-year coach TJ Otzelberger, who played against an AP top-25 team at Iowa State Leading 6-7 at the time. The 5-0 Cyclones will go first. 20 UConn competes in Sunday’s PKI championship game.

This result will cause major changes in the next AP Top 25 poll. You know what that means. It’s takeout time. We have to start with Tar Heels.

UNC’s failure is no surprise

When I spoke with UNC senior Leaky Black on Thursday, he warned that he and his teammates can’t continue to blandly think they can get away with it. Advantages of UNC: Uneven heel. Leading for most of the first half, including a 30-21 lead with 5:36 left. Yes, ISU needs Grill’s great shooting performance, but it’s clear at this point in the season that the Tar Heels aren’t playing with the same sense of urgency, collective purpose or confidence that they did in the final month of last season.

Love also adds fuel to the fire. He’s a trash talker, and on Friday, it backfired. The more he yells at Grill, the more confident Grill becomes and the more shots he takes.

“He came in from 3 and went 4-for-24 and he hit a lot of tough shots,” Love told CBS Sports’ Grill after the game. “Some crazy shots, deep shots, face-to-face hands, it doesn’t matter. Credit to him.”

Kudos to Love for spilling his hat after trying to get Grill off his game and failing within 40 minutes.

“A lot of our operations are sped up, but we’re not handling it well,” Love said. “Defensively, we didn’t defend. They made a lot of jumpers, and that’s a credit to them, but they played better.”

Perhaps it would be in UNC’s interest to bear that loss. It has been knocked out in four of its previous five wins. Sometimes a loss like this is the melting pot of opposites and can prompt a team to develop better habits.

Otzelberger can’t contain his emotions

The win was only the third time Iowa has beaten a No. 1 state. 23 attempts to rank No. 1 in the AP rankings. The Cyclones defeated No. 1 Oklahoma on Jan. 1. Jan. 18, 2016, and Kansas, led by Wilt Chamberlain, Jan. 18. 14th, 1957. Ozelberg told CBS Sports that this is the first time he’s been part of a team that beats the No. 1 ranking. 1.

That’s how such a raucous celebration — in one of the tiniest dressing rooms I’ve ever seen — came to fruition.

We are now at the end of November, but due to the nature of these multi-team events, frustrating things have come up, and you get a March vibe over Thanksgiving weekend. It offers a lot to be thankful for, and the Whirlwind shows that. After the locker room was doused, a drenched Ozelberg was emotional during the post-match press conference. He talks about how committed he is to the job, and it’s not a stepping stone situation for him.

“It’s for a lifetime,” he said with tears in his eyes.

He went 27-13 in 40 starts at Iowa State, and it’s safe to say that ISU fans feel more optimistic about their program than they have in six or seven years. The Cyclones don’t play pretty and don’t want to play pretty, but defensively they are an affront to every team’s safety. ISU ranks second in turnover rate — it has 14 over UNC — and must be considered a tournament-worthy Big 12 team for the second straight season. Remember, ISU went 7-11 in the Big 12 regular season but went No. 1 in the NCAA. No. 11 seed and advance to the Sweet 16.

Without a bench, can UNC play at a high level?

No matter what UNC does to right the wrongs, I’m starting to wonder if this team has a ceiling because of its personnel. It’s a worrying sign that Hubert Davis may have to step into the “Iron Five” profile again this season — primarily as a starter — because I think it’s bound to result in more losses than necessary . Love, Black, Armando Bacot, RJ Davis and Pete Nance all played more than 31 minutes against physical opponents, 28 hours shy of a good performance from Portland. A little worn. There are a lot of questions to ask. Iowa State looked fresher and could close out the game.

Puff Johnson, Seth Trimble, D’Marco Dunn — they’re not ready to be key contributors right now. Will that change in the next six weeks? It feels like it has to if UNC is going to grow into a Final Four contender.

Davis wasn’t bothered afterwards. He said that despite the return of so many players from last season’s team, it is still a new team that needs to learn its lessons and find its own way. Personalities evolve and players get better at their positions, but as a whole this team is nowhere near where UNC was in March.

“Just because you have experience doesn’t mean you’re perfect,” Davis said.

UNC is far from perfect, that’s obvious. The question is if or when it will find elite form, as that hasn’t happened in a single game so far.

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