I found myself with a difficult decision to make for Player of the Game. I considered naming Luke Maye, who got five stitches at halftime and came back to do this...
Luke Maye in the last 5 minutes: 7 points (2-2 FGs, 1-1 3s, 2-2 FTs), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) January 17, 2018
That’s impressive, and it shows the amount of grit Luke Maye has—that’s something you can’t teach. But unless he went absolutely off in the second half, there was always one answer to this question.
Cameron Johnson scored a season-high 21 points to lead the Heels, but as with most stats that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Johnson joined Kenny Williams (against Stanford) as the only Heels to hit six threes in a game so far this season, and the Heels needed every last one of those points. It’s been well-documented, of course, that Clemson opened the second half on a seemingly impossible run of good shooting.
The Tigers, down 15 at halftime after scoring only 23 in the first half, made 15 out of their first 16 shots after halftime, scoring 56 in the second half. UNC’s first three made field goals after the break were three Cam threes to go along with the two he had in the first half. He finished the game going six of nine from deep, and his last one (indeed, his last points of the game) came at a critical moment.
With a touch over six minutes left to play, Clemson had closed the margin to two points for the second time. The answer was Cam’s final three, which pushed the margin to a much more manageable five. And then, on Clemson’s next possession, he even grabbed the rebound after a missed three on their end! (In fact, that was only their second missed field goal of the half to that moment.)
This was easily Cam’s game of the season so far, and if he can continue to play to this high a level as the Heels continue their conference gauntlet (especially if Roy sticks with this starting lineup) then there is a very high ceiling this season. With only one bench player hitting double digit minutes (Garrison Brooks), the Heels need as much out of their starters as possible.