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UNC Basketball at UNCW - Player of the Game: Justin Pierce

The graduate transfer stood out on a bad shooting night for the Tar Heels

NCAA Basketball: William & Mary at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s game was another poor shooting performance overall for the Tar Heels. The team shot 27-72 overall (37.5%) and 8-25 (32%) from behind the arc. You like that the pace brought about 72 shots, but you just hate seeing only 27 of them go on.

Thus, when you have someone who managed to go 7-12 overall and 4-7 from three, both well above the team averages, that someone is likely a big reason the team was able to win by sixteen points. So it was for Justin Pierce, whose familiarity with Trask Coliseum from his days at William & Mary came in handy on Friday night in his first road game as a Tar Heel. Pierce did not start, but he made a case for getting a lot of minutes going forward on a night when Carolina needed them.

The first half was back and forth to start, and the only reason that the Tar Heels were able to keep close was because of Pierce. He was responsible for eight of the Tar Heels’ first 11 points. Later, when UNCW was hanging tight around the eight minute mark, Pierce had five huge points in the decisive 12-3 run. The Tar Heels had a safe lead the rest of the game, but Pierce was a major reason why they were able to play with some comfort.

A very close second here is Garrison Brooks, who recorded his first career double-double and was the main reason the lead was able to stay comfortable in the second half. He performed well considering his front court mate Armando Bacot only played a little over two minutes total thanks to foul trouble and then getting whacked on the head. He was also one of the only Heels to shoot well from the free throw line, going 8-10 while the rest of team went 8-20. His dunk off this lob from Andrew Platek was a highlight of the game:

Cole Anthony came down to earth a little bit last night, as he did score another double double but shot 7-24 overall and 2-7 from the free throw line to get there. With so many bodies out for the Heels, though, it’s little wonder the freshman felt pressure to take on a heavy scoring load. As the season goes along, you can probably expect more up and downs like this. That said, he had the other big highlight of the game with this dunk

So Pierce gets the nod thanks to him being able to keep UNC close before the Seahawks could get any sort of real lead, and then being a major contributor on the major first half run. It’ll be interesting to see if Pierce can put up similar numbers against teams he hasn’t played against before.