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UNC vs. NC State: Three Things Learned

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Garrison Brooks was a man amongst boys in the Heels’ big win against the Wolfpack.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 27 North Carolina at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following the big win over the weekend against Miami, it was hard to get too excited knowing that UNC had to go into PNC Arena and face off against NC State just two days later. It’s probably fair to say that Heels fans feared that the Wolfpack would have the edge if Cole Anthony showed no signs of returning, but the Heels fought ferociously to a 10-point victory that officially has them on a two-game win streak.

This game was extremely emotional for a multitude of reasons, and undoubtedly some outside emotions were felt in the building as well after Sunday’s tragic accident. Now that it is over and the Heels managed to leave victorious, let’s take a look at a few takeaways from this slugfest.

Brandon Robinson is one tough guy

Brandon Robinson has taken quite a beating this season. Between the ankle injuries that he’s suffered and the car accident a couple of weeks ago, it’s amazing that he’s even still able to step onto the court. Well, not only did he play last night, but he got knocked out of the game multiple times. After hurting his ankle again and getting nailed in the ribs multiple times, B-Rob kept going back in for more, to a point where Tar Heel Nation was begging him to just stay out of the game. Instead, he continued to battle because he knew his team needed him, and it was one of the most amazing moments this season.

With Cole Anthony still being out, Robinson has taken it upon himself to will this team to wins the last couple of games. He has morphed into the senior leader that the Tar Heels have sorely needed, and Roy Williams has to be elated with everything he’s seeing. When Cole Anthony does come back, this may become one of the more dangerous backcourts in the ACC if the team can find a way to acclimate to having their star back. Today that doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that Brandon Robinson is as tough as they come, and I tip my hat to him.

Garrison Brooks 2.0

What if I told you Garrison Brooks has recorded a double-double in 7 of the last 8 games? What if I also told you that the last time he failed to score in double figures was against Virginia, and in that game he only took five shots? If you’re like me, when you read those figures you dropped your jaw at least a little bit. The junior big man has been on a tear in conference play this season, and he is averaging more than double his scoring average from last season. What’s even more impressive is his efficiency hasn’t suffered much, as he is currently shooting at a 54.1% clip for the season in comparison to last season’s 57.4%.

Brooks’ production has been as much out of necessity as it has been knowing that he can take most guys that he goes up against. It’s a weird change of pace considering the fact that last year one would argue that his size inhibited his ability to get the job done down low, but he has since diversified his shot portfolio in a way that makes it hard for defenders to deal with him. Not to mention it helps that he is now spending a lot more time at the power forward position, which is his natural spot. He and Bacot have done a great job of taking advantage of their touches in the paint, though in the case of Bacot, this game was a little weird for him. He made 2 of his 10 attempts but also made 7 of his 11 free throws, so he was able to produce the way big men should when their shot isn’t falling, which is getting to the line as much as possible.

It’s really exciting to see this team figure things out, but it’s even more exciting to see what Brooks has become this season. The best part? We have one more year with him. Maybe the Basketball Gods aren’t all that cruel after all.

NC State fans are the worst

Let’s get serious for a moment: as I mentioned earlier, Brandon Robinson ended up leaving the game multiple times due to injuries. Considering who UNC was playing, and the proximity of said team, one would imagine that everyone in the building knew exactly what Robinson has been through and would be more sympathetic to what happened. Alas, the toxic fans showed themselves in the worst way possible, and booed Brandon Robinson as he was leaving the court after having already gone down two times. It gets worse: Inside Carolina’s Ross Martin tweeted that a fan could be heard yelling something extremely inappropriate at the bruised and battered Tar Heel:

Sadly, it gets worse:

What I am going to say may not be fair to apply to an entire fanbase, but let’s be honest: we all knew something like this would surface when Robinson went down. We just lost one of the best basketball players of all time in a helicopter crash, and not even 48 hours later grown adults are taunting a hurt college basketball player who also was in an accident, he just happened to survive. This is single-handedly the most disgusting behavior I may have ever witnessed from any fanbase ever, and to say those people should be ashamed of themselves is being way too kind.

We are sports fans because we are passionate, competitive people that want to win against the opposition. State fans have taken this alleged rivalry way too far because of their own misery in not having won a conference title in 20+ years, and they need to take a step back and put their lives into perspective. I hate Duke, obviously, but rooting for one of their players to get injuries is sickening and it’s something I would never, ever do. For those of you out there, no matter what team you root for, who would ever dare to root for a college student to get hurt again, you don’t deserve to take part in sports. Period. There’s no room for such disgusting behavior in non-combat sports, and even with those there’s a line drawn in the sand that should never be crossed.

Now that we got that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s end on a positive note: last night’s win gave Roy Williams as many wins in PNC Arena as Kevin Keatts currently has as the head coach of NC State. What a time to be alive.

Go Heels!