Carolina basketball winning games will always improve my mood, but tonight’s win over NC State did my soul a lot of good. Roy Williams absolutely hates losing to State, and he’s done a magnificent job of avoiding it far more often than not. Things have been as such this season that Wolfpack fans had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of pissing Old Roy off tonight.
Enter: Garrison Brooks.
Brooks scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds on his way to another double-double. The rest of the starters were remarkably consistent with Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, and Brandon Robinson all finishing with 11 points. With the bench still limited to just three players, the starters were once again relied upon to carry the bulk of the load. They did so well enough to beat a team that came into tonight 14-6 on the season by double digits in their own building.
If it seems like I’m ragging pretty hard on NC State, it’s because I am. Not because of anything the players did, but because of the behavior of their fans. Brandon Robinson’s body was held together with paper clips and bubble gum tonight, and he barely made it through in one piece. He was hit in the ribs early in the game, and (as is expected while playing sports) battled the pain of that for the remainder of the game. He needed to be seen by the trainer several times. An audible segment of the PNC Arena crowd was anything but sportsmanlike while Robinson was on the ground in obvious pain.
Do we really expect better? No, but the kid was in a car accident with a drunk driver just two weeks ago. His own fanbase gave him a hard time for needing to miss the Virginia Tech game with the lingering effects of his injuries (which was unacceptable as well), and the jeering tonight was just completely out of pocket. I suppose it is the nature of sports fans to some extent, but it did make the Tar Heels’ win feel even sweeter.
UNC turned the ball over 13 times to State’s 10, but but their 49% shooting helped them keep their heads above water. Free throw shooting late gave everyone a bit of a scare, but Robinson was able to knock his shots from the charity stripe down in order to seal the deal. The discrepancy at the free throw line was a big factor in the game, as the Heels shot 25 free throws and the Wolfpack just seven.
It felt great on Saturday to finally break out of the five-game losing streak slump, but tonight feels even better, for obvious reasons. Here’s hoping the guys can keep it going on Saturday when they welcome Boston College to the Dean Dome.