PORTLAND, Ore. — Caleb came up big — but not that Caleb. Iowa State senior Caleb Grill had one of the best games of his life, scoring a career-high 31 points and guiding Iowa State to a second half come-from-behind 70-65 win over No. 1 North Carolina in Friday’s semifinal.
Tar Heels star Caleb Love, meanwhile, had 12 points, but only three in the second half. A UNC team that had been flirting with fire by playing close games against mid-major opponents finally got burned by failing to execute its offense down the stretch against the first power-conference opponent the Tar Heels (5-1) played this season.
Iowa State, which two seasons ago went 2-22, has started a second consecutive season 5-0 under second-year coach T.J. Otzelberger, who is 6-7 against AP Top 25 teams at Iowa State. The 5-0 Cyclones will play No. 20 UConn in Sunday’s PKI championship game.
This is a result that will cause significant change atop the next AP Top 25 poll. You know what that means. It’s takeaways time. We have to start with the Tar Heels.
UNC losing wasn’t surprising whatsoever
When I spoke to UNC senior Leaky Black on Thursday, he warned that he and his teammates could ill afford to continue to come out flat and think they could escape. The good for UNC: Heels didn’t come out flat. Led most of the first half, including 30-21 with 5:36 remaining. Yes, ISU needed an outrageous shooting performance by Grill, but it’s obvious at this point in the season that the Tar Heels are not playing with the urgency, collective purpose or confidence the way they did to close out the final month of last season.
Love also fueled the fire. He’s a willing trash-talker, and on Friday that wound up backfiring. The more he chirped at Grill, the more confident Grill got and the more shots he hit.
“He was 4 for 24 coming into the game from 3, he hit a lot of tough shots,” Love told CBS Sports of Grill afterward. “Some crazy shots, deep shots, hand in the face, it didn’t matter. Credit to him.”
Credit to Love for tipping his cap after trying to toss Grill off his game for 40 minutes and failing.
“We got sped up in a lot of our actions and we didn’t handle that well,” Love said. “On the defensive end, we weren’t guarding. They hit a lot of jump shots, credit to them, but they played the better game.”
Maybe taking this kind of loss will serve UNC well. It was getting nipped at in four of its previous five wins. Sometimes a loss like this is a furnace to the face that can nudge a team into better habits.
Otzelberger can’t hold back his emotions
The victory is just the third time Iowa State defeated the No. 1 team in the AP rankings in 23 tries. The Cyclones had victories against top-ranked Oklahoma on Jan. 18, 2016, and Kansas, led by Wilt Chamberlain, on Jan. 14, 1957. Otzelberger told CBS Sports this was the first time he ever was a part of…
Read More: North Carolina vs. Iowa State score, takeaways: No. 1 Tar Heels upset by 2022-11-26 05:06:00