On another day, Kennedy Meeks’ two missed free throws with five second left lead to an Oregon basket at the other end and UNC losing. Meeks’ best ever game goes to waste and is just a footnote in one of the more frustrating losses in recent Tar Heel history. However, Meeks’ missed free throws did not end up costing UNC. Neither did Joel Berry’s misses. Because Kennedy Meeks boxed out.
Meeks finished with 14 rebounds, none as big as the one with four seconds left to seal the game and send the Tar Heels back to the National Championship game. That capped off Meeks’ best ever game, as he also went for 25 points, going 11-13 from the field.
In a game where Isaiah Hicks really struggled, Joel Berry went just 2-14 and UNC as a team shot just 37%, Meeks was consistently there to clean up and make sure Carolina came away with points.
Throughout his career, Meeks has had critics. He’s not the most athletic big in the world. His finishing at the rim isn’t always the prettiest. There have been games where he was completely a non-factor. There was that whole weight thing.
However, his time with UNC has been good more often than not. This season especially, he had been really good and extremely important for the Tar Heels.
Performances from Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, or even Luke Maye have usually gotten the headlines. In this game, Justin Jackson was also excellent, going for 22 points. Meeks’ senior season is filled with excellent secondary or tertiary performances. This game, he more than deserves the headlines.
If it wasn’t for Meeks, North Carolina loses and that is his final game. Instead, the Tar Heels will play for a national championship.