Wow. Just. Wow.
This goes without saying, but this is not how any UNC senior should have their Senior Night go. Nobody deserves to leave their heart, their soul, and their sweat on the floor of the Dean Smith Center only to have their hearts ripped out at the buzzer. There’s something cruel and unusual about what happened tonight, but at the same time, it was hard not to feel a little bit of joy. Joy for what Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II have brought to the University of North Carolina during their four years, through their hard work, their trust, and their energy.
This is, indeed, a recap. So, let’s talk a bit about what happened against Miami.
UNC looked like they were ready for a fight in the early minutes of this game. The Heels got out to an 8-point lead that was largely due to the performance of Cameron Johnson. Miami managed to go on a run of their own with a 6-0 run behind the 11 first half points of Ebuka Izundu. The Heels became unraveled completely on defense, letting Miami shoot at a 56.2% clip from the field, and a blistering 60% from three. Sounds familiar? Of course it does.
In the second half, UNC did everything they could to fight back. Joel Berry II went into “PO’d Joel Berry” mode, helping UNC go on multiple runs throughout the second half. The Heels managed tie the game up 88-88 thanks to a huge three-pointer by Berry with just seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately, as I pointed out before, life is cruel...and Ja’Quan Newton scored the game-winning three on a buzzer beater to close things out. Berry finished the night with 31 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Theo Pinson and Cameron Johnson also had notably strong performances tonight — Pinson finished his final game in the Dean Smith Center with a double-double, scoring 12 points and 11 assists. Cameron Johnson finished the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds, and shot 3-5 from the three-point line.
Following the game, Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson, and Roy Williams all gave speeches as Berry and Pinson bid the Dean Dome farewell. The overall message? “We are not done yet.” There is work to be done, and the Heels will have the next four days to prepare for what will be one of their toughest tests in the season: going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and ruining Grayson Allen’s senior night. Maybe this was all meant to happen this way. Maybe, just maybe, UNC is supposed to go into Durham Saturday night and hurt the Blue Devils the same way the Hurricanes hurt them tonight. We can all dream, and with enough work, it just might happen.
Either way, I think I speak for many Tar Heel fans when I say I’m going to miss the hell out of watching Berry and Pinson play. It has truly been an honor, but like they said tonight: they are not done yet.