The Tar Heels started Saturday’s Final Four game against Oregon with incredibly poor shooting. Fortunately for Carolina, the Ducks were plagued by turnovers that allowed UNC to hang around until the shots started to fall. Enter: Kennedy Meeks.
Meeks turned in the performance of his career, doing it all for the Tar Heels. On a night when Joel Berry II and Isaiah Hicks were ineffective, Meeks was there every step of the way. He scored 25 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
As he’s done all season, Justin Jackson was also huge for the Heels. While Berry was unable to hit on the majority of his shots from the field, Jackson nailed four three-point shots on his way to 22 points.
Although he has certainly had better games, Berry was able to make it into double digits. The Tar Heels needed all of it with Hicks only contributing 2 points. The bench was also not much of a factor outside of some strong defense and a couple clutch plays by Nate Britt.
What makes this Carolina team so dangerous is that there are so many weapons who can beat you. Last game, Luke Maye was the hero. This time, it was a guy who has taken so much heat for the majority of his time in the Carolina uniform. What Meeks did tonight, however, was invaluable. He is having a great tournament as a senior.
With just seconds to go, Meeks went to the line with the Tar Heels up just one point. He missed both free throws, but Theo Pinson was able to knock the ball out to his teammate to preserve the possession. Berry was fouled with even fewer seconds left, and he also missed. Meeks, hero of the game, came down with the ball to give the Heels the win. No player was bigger for the Heels tonight.
The Tar Heels now advance to the National Championship game. It has been their goal all season to return to the game where they fell just short a year ago. They’ll have a chance to bring it home again against Gonzaga on Monday.