Expectations for Cole Anthony have been sky high heading into the season, and UNC’s freshman point guard lived up to all of them in his first game as a Tar Heel. Anthony broke a school record for points in a debut with 34 on his way to leading Carolina to a 76-65 victory over Notre Dame.
The game was very much uneasy for Tar Heel fans before the freshman took it over for 23 points in the second half. UNC went to the locker room at halftime trailing by one point after a miserable first half that saw them miss 22 of their last 29 field goals. The defensive effort was apparent for UNC at the outset, but Prentiss Hubb and T.J. Gibbs combined for 22 of the Fighting Irish’s 31 first-half points.
Anthony was the obvious star, adding 11 rebounds and five assists to his stat sheet. Garrison Brooks was just one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, looking much more at ease at the four spot than he did at the five last year. Andrew Platek played a career-high 26 minutes and scored eight points, including making two three-pointers. UNC’s other freshman, Armando Bacot, also had a strong debut with seven points, eight boards, and one beautiful assist to Leaky Black.
Rust and sloppiness were clear factors in Carolina’s first half. Anthony also wore a pair of goggles in the first half before ditching them with 12 minutes left. His shooting immediately improved without them. Whether it was because the goggles were impeding his vision or coincidence, we may never know. Pretty sure we won’t be seeing them again after all the success he found without them.
The team shot 47% from the field for the game thanks to a blistering 64% second half. Anthony went 8-15 after halftime including five made threes. Carolina absolutely demolished Notre Dame on the boards, out-rebounding the Irish 51-31. Having a duo of bigs down low will do that for you.
It was a great win for a UNC team that is still very much trying to gel. They took on a conference opponent that had all the experience in the world and managed to come out of it with a win. They’ll now have a few games of (knock on wood) easier competition to iron out the rest of the kinks against, but they managed to survive a tough test at the outset. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Cole Anthony this year, and tonight was just the first taste of that.
The Heels are back in action on Friday as they travel to UNCW.