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UNC vs NC State Player of the Game: Luke Maye

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He wasn’t the top scorer or top rebounder, but Luke Maye earned the game ball for the Tar Heels.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Every Tar Heel starter except for Isaiah Hicks was in double figures for scoring. They were all impressive in UNC’s win over NC State in Raleigh, and there is an argument for why each of them may deserve the game ball. However, it wasn’t a starter whose performance stood out the most at PNC Wednesday night.

Luke Maye turned in a career game, scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds in 23 minutes of play. The bench big men were forced into extended action, thanks to Hicks’ near-immediate foul trouble. Maye was there to answer the call and then some.

He also blessed us with this tremendous move that should have caused his opponent to just walk off the floor immediately:

Beautiful.

Maye has caught his fair share of criticism from Tar Heel fans this season, and it wasn’t always without merit. He looked like he belonged last night, though. That resulted in the best game he’s played as a Tar Heel.

With news coming down after the game that Kenny Williams is likely to miss the rest of the season, more players will need to step up and pick up the slack. Obviously Theo Pinson is the biggest example of this, as he is likely to step into the starting lineup, but guys like Maye and Tony Bradley will also be crucial to UNC’s march toward the NCAA tournament and well into March (and hopefully April).