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UNC vs. NC State - Player of the Game: Luke Maye

As is tradition.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Unless these two teams meet again in the ACC or NCAA Tournament, Luke Maye has now played his final career game against NC State. He spent this occasion like he did most other times he played significant minutes against State: by completely torching the Wolfpack.

Maye led the Tar Heels in scoring on Tuesday night, scoring 31 points. He did that on 10-15 shooting, going just 1-4 from three but a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line to make up for it. In addition to leading all scorers, he also grabbed a game high 12 rebounds. Slump? What slump?

After Tuesday’s game, Maye has played seven times against NC State. He’s averaged 19.7 points and 10.1 rebounds. If you take out the game in 2016 in which he only played seven minutes, those averages jump to 23.0 and 11.2. His career per 40 minute averages against State are 29.8 and 15.4. During Marcus Paige’s career, there were plenty of jokes about him owning the Wolfpack and PaigeNC Arena. After these past couple of years, at the very least, Maye’s name is also on the deed.

The only thing slightly negative that you can say about his game, besides the mediocre outside shooting, is that he did turn it over four times again. While that still needs to be cleaned up, this time it can be forgiven when he was leading the way for an offense that scored 1.361 points per possession and ended up averaging more than 2 points per field goal attempt.

As expected from a 17-point win where UNC scored 113 points, he was far from the only Tar Heel with a big night.

Coby White was neck-and-neck with Maye points-wise until the about the midway point of the second half, finishing with 21 points and four assists. Kenny Williams had one of his most efficient nights of the season, putting up 17 points on 6-7 shooting, including 2-2 from three. Cameron Johnson also scored 17, while Nassir Little scored 12, including going 8-10 from the free throw line.

Maye has gone through some struggles this season. That wasn’t remotely evident against NC State on Tuesday night. It remains to be seen if this Luke Maye, or even 75% of him, will stick around after this. Every game can’t be against your favorite opponent.