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UNC vs. Arkansas - Player of the Game: Luke Maye

The junior forward continues his hot season with another career night against the Razorbacks.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina Midnight Madness Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina continued their west coast stint in the PK80 Tournament against Arkansas on Friday. It wasn’t a great start for the Tar Heels, but once they got rolling, the outcome was never really in doubt. In the end, North Carolina got the 87-68 win and will play in the Championship game of the Victory Bracket on Sunday.

It wasn’t the hottest start by any means. No one could find the basket for the Tar Heels, even the vaunted junior from Hough High School. In the first eight minutes of the game, Luke Maye had two points (on free throws), but was 0-1 from the field and had two turnovers. He may not have been scoring, but he was finding the ball and knew what to do with it. He had already racked up seven total rebounds and two assists.

Coming out of the under-12 timeout, the floodgates opened. Maye began his run by hitting a three that gave the Tar Heels a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. His total statline from the under-12 timeout to the half looked like this: 5-6 from the field (hitting both of his three-point attempts), two offensive rebounds, a defensive rebound, a block, a turnover, and a missed free throw.

All in all, Maye had secured his double-double with a minute and a half left to go in the first half of the game. Going into the locker room he was sitting on 14 points on 4-7 shooting, 10 rebounds, three turnovers, two assists, and a block. I don’t care who is playing, that’s a statline many are proud of for an entire game.

Maye wasn’t finished, though. In the second half, he doubled his points, added six more rebounds, three more assists to two more turnovers. He finished the game with 28 points (setting a new career high after already upping his best earlier this season against UNI) and 16 rebounds (another career high). This was his fourth game of the season eclipsing the 20-point mark and his third game grabbing ten or more rebounds.

This is turning into a historic season for Maye. He is averaging 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. His shooting is red hot as he is better than 58% overall and 53% beyond the arc. The absolute worst part about his season, thus far, would have to be the 1.5 assist to turnover ratio he has (14-9).

You could argue that this is the best start we have seen from anyone in Carolina blue in quite some time. How, you may ask?

Could we be seeing the beginnings of a Luke Maye All-ACC season? Could (or should) he find himself in the mix for ACC Player of the Year?