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Mitchell Northam | | February 2, 2019

UNC-Louisville: 3 takeaways from North Carolina's revenge over the Cardinals

Kentucky cracks the top 5 in Andy Katz's latest Power 36

Revenge has been extracted for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Louisville beat North Carolina at the Dean E. Smith Center on Jan. 12, handing coach Roy Williams his worst home loss, a 21-point defeat.

The No. 9 Tar Heels flipped the script on the No. 15 Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, leaving Kentucky with a 79-69 win.

THE BRACKET: Print the official 2019 March Madness bracket

For UNC (17-4; 7-1 ACC), the win puts it at the top of the ACC table with the league’s other one-loss teams, Virginia and Duke. For Louisville (16-6; 7-2 ACC) the defeat snaps a six-game win streak.

The Tar Heels have been very good away from Chapel Hill this season, as they are now 5-0 in ACC road games, making it the first time since the 2007-08 season that North Carolina has won its first five away contests in conference play.

Here are a few takeaways from the top 15 ACC matchup:

Defense leading the way for the Tar Heels

North Carolina held Louisville to 41.9 percent shooting from the floor and 34.5 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Tar Heels also forced 11 Cardinals turnovers.

UNC is now 17-1 this season when its opponents shoot worse than 49.9 percent from the floor. The Tar Heels are now 10-0 when their opponent has more turnovers than them, and they are 14-0 when they hold their opponents to under 80 points. For Louisville, 69 points is the third lowest total it has scored this season, and the Cardinals are winless in those three games.

North Carolina can run, dunk and shoot 3s with the best of the ACC, but the Tar Heels’ recipe for success this season has been its stout defense.

ACC: N.C. State's 24 points goes down in history | It's been 19 years since this happened to Duke

Little can make an impact without scoring

Freshman wing Nassir Little is fourth in scoring for the Tar Heels this season, but he showed on Saturday that he can make an impact on the game even when he’s not scoring. Little scored just four points on six shots, but he also grabbed six rebounds and tallied an assist, a steal and a block in an off-the-bench effort.

UPSETS: Iowa shocks Michigan | Wisconsin beats Maryland

UNC at its best when it controls the glass

When the Cardinals beat the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill earlier this season, they won the rebounding battle 40-31, making it just the second time all year North Carolina lost the battle on the boards. On Saturday, the Tar Heels didn’t allow an offensive rebound in the first 20 minutes of play and finished with a 49-32 edge in rebounding. 

Entering Saturday, UNC was fifth in the country in rebounding margin, outmuscling opponents by an average of 9.9 boards per-game. That mark also leads the ACC. Cam Johnson and Luke Maye led the Tar Heels on the glass with 10 and 11 boards, respectively. The duo also combined for 39 points. No Cardinal grabbed more than eight rebounds.

In the Cardinals' 83-62 head-to-head win back on Jan. 12, center Steven Enoch finished with a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with a game-high 17 points. On Saturday, the redshirt junior was held scoreless and grabbed just four boards.

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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