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UNC vs. Louisville - Player of the Game: Joel Berry

Berry did it all in a fifth straight win for Carolina.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Just taking a quick look at the box score for this game gives the impression that it was a balanced effort from the starters. All five scored double digit points. They also all got at least three rebounds and three assists.

A couple in particular stood out, through. Luke Maye went for 19 points and 13 rebounds, but in his case, he really only had a standout half. He scored just two points in the first half before somehow ending up with yet another double-double. Theo Pinson also scored 19 points in addition to his normal seven rebounds and five assists.

The other person to stand out against Louisville was Joel Berry. Not only did the senior lead UNC in scoring, he recorded eight rebounds and five assists as well.

He also did this:

At the time of that block, Louisville was down just eight. A made layup there makes it six, if Berry misses the ball and gets a piece of the man, the lead could have gone down to just five. Instead, Berry blocks the shot, the ball goes up the other end, and Maye hits a three. That took the lead back out to 11, and it never dropped below that.

That’s the type of game it was for Berry: he kept making big plays right as Louisville threatened to get back in the game. Earlier in the second half, the Cardinals had cut the deficit to seven. Berry went right back up the court and hit a three. He made a layup at the end of the first half to send UNC into halftime up nine instead of seven, and giving UNC a tiny bit of momentum when the end of the half had been all Cards.

It maybe wasn’t the most efficient game for him as it did take 20 shots to get his 23 points, but it was enough to be a net positive, and his impact on the game’s biggest moments as well as his all-round contribution to the team was invaluable.

Coming into the game, Berry was averaging 22 points per game in true road games. Last night, he played one of the better defenses in the country (ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency, per Pomeroy) and managed to increase that number. Enjoy Joel Berry while he’s still here, people. We won’t see another competitor like him for a while.