Maybe head coach Hubert Davis should consider finding someone to criticize his North Carolina team before every game.
Davis and his players took exception to criticism following a pair of defeats to top programs in Purdue and Tennessee the weekend before Thanksgiving. A week and a half later, they responded with their best effort, routing No. 24 Michigan 72-51 on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Next up for the Tar Heels: Their ACC opener on Sunday at Georgia Tech.
"I feel like we took a step in the right direction," said Armando Bacot, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds against Michigan. "I mean, we were all just pretty upset and really (ticked) off about it. And just some of the things that were said about us as a team, we didn't like it at all."
North Carolina's Caleb Love poured in a game-high 22 points against Michigan and Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia added 14. More importantly, the Tar Heels(5-2) gave a better effort defensively and limited the Wolverines to 35.1 percent shooting.
"I felt like our guys wanted another opportunity against a big-time team," Davis said.
Can the Tar Heels validate that one with a good outing against a team they are projected to beat? While Georgia Tech (5-2) is the defending ACC Tournament champion, it's also a team still figuring out how to replace its leader, point guard Jose Alvarado.
The Yellow Jackets enter Sunday's game off a 70-66 home loss Wednesday night against No. 23 Wisconsin in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
"Really, really good game by both teams," Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. "Sometimes, the ball goes your way, and this time it didn't."
The defeat couldn't be blamed on Michael Devoe, the ACC's leading scorer, who pumped in a game-high 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Devoe is averaging 25.0 points per game, and he's doing so efficiently. He's hitting 56.5 percent from the field and 59.0 percent on 3-pointers.
UNC leads the all-time series 69-27, but the Yellow Jackets won the past two meetings and three of the past five. The Tar Heels are 55-13 all time in ACC openers.
--Field Level Media