It is a pretty rare event when a player who wasn’t first, or even second, in scoring receives Player of the Game honors. Luke Maye had the highest point total with 17 after he snapped his funk. Joel Berry II finished behind him with 13 points, including three huge three-pointers. However, Player of the Game goes to Garrison Brooks.
Brooks has been impressive in flashes this season without a lot of consistency, but the freshman big man turned in 16 crucial minutes in UNC’s win against Duke on Friday night. Theo Pinson found himself in some early foul trouble that forced Roy Williams to turn to his bench early. Brooks, Sterling Manley, and Brandon Huffman had fouls to give to protect Theo from trying to guard Marvin Bagley.
Of all the players on the team, Brooks found himself at the free throw line most often. He made four of his six attempts from the charity stripe. He tallied four rebounds with three of them coming on the offensive glass to give his team extra chances at points.
Brooks’ presence in the game might be best remembered long from now as the game when Grayson Allen...hip checked? butt checked?? Brooks with a return to his usual shenanigans. The referees went to the monitors and called a flagrant 1 on the Duke senior, and Brooks sank both his free throws. That was big for a 54% free throw shooter on the season.
It’s likely still fair to say that the baby bigs have not developed to the extent some of us hoped this season, as evidenced by the fact that Pinson is forced into duty down low more often than is probably ideal. However, they have shown glimpses of what the future could be like, and the Duke game was a shining example of what Garrison Brooks can be going forward.