December 30, 2019. That was the last time the North Carolina Tar Heels managed to get a win in college basketball, and it was against Yale 70-67. Since then, the Heels have been pummeled by the first leg of their ACC schedule to the point that we didn’t even recognize this team anymore. Heck, I’m not sure I even recognized this program anymore. Today that all changed, as they beat down a Chris Lykes-less Miami Hurricanes to break their five-game losing streak.
From the beginning it was clear that Miami was feeling their injury issues a bit more than Carolina, but even with that in mind the Heels looked like a team on a mission. The Canes’ 2-3 zone got abused by a lot of good passing and the Heels managed to get the looks they needed just about whenever they touched the ball. The biggest benefactor in the first half, and really all game long, was Brandon Robinson, as he shot 60% from the field and had 15 points with three of those shots being from deep. Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks were able to do a lot of damage in the paint, collectively scoring 17 points. Things got out of hand rapidly, and by the time halftime arrived UNC was up 51-27.
When both teams came back onto the court for the second half, it was expected that Miami would’ve made some kind of adjustment. Any adjustment. Alas, UNC continued to get anything and everything that they wanted to, and Brandon Robinson continued to play like a man possessed. We all knew that “3-Rob” was a special entity that we were all unworthy of, but seeing him make 6 of his 10 three-pointers was unreal to witness. His six makes were a career high for him, and making 11 of his 16 field goals overall was something special to witness. It’s truly amazing the way that he has stepped up when the Heels needed him the most, and it’ll be a performance that won’t soon be forgotten.
Perhaps even more amazing, however, is how good just about everybody looked. Armando Bacot kept his high level of play going, finishing the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists, knocking on the door of a triple-double. Garrison Brooks finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Heck, even Justin Pierce finished with 9 points after going 4-8 from the field. As a team, UNC shot 58% from the field and make 43% of their three-point attempts. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from the game against Georgia Tech.
While this dominating performance from UNC should make everyone feel a lot better about where things are going, it’s also important to remember that Miami was without their star player in Chris Lykes. While yes, the Heels were missing Cole Anthony, the Hurricanes clearly hadn’t learned how to function without their starting point guard, which is a struggle that Carolina knows all too well. Even with that said, this win was massive and it is one that could be what this team needs to turn things around.
Next up is the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh. This will be a tough one, as they’ll go up against a team that would love nothing more than to kick the Tar Heels while they’re down. It’s good to see the Heels sit up off the mat, now let’s see if they can rise to their feet and put State away.