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UNC vs. Iowa Player of the Game: Garrison Brooks

The senior leader braved an injured ankle, an All-American opponent, and curious whistles in a tough loss to Iowa.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Garrison Brooks sprained his ankle during a valiant Player of the Game performance against Texas. During his Monday press conference, Roy Williams told the media:

“Garrison hasn’t played the way I expected him to play, but against Texas he was the guy who stepped up and made big plays for us. It was just unfortunate that he sprained his ankle and he hasn’t practiced since then. He hasn’t been able to go full court. In fact the first day he did nothing. Absolutely nothing. And then we got him in some halfcourt work yesterday.”

Garrison’s availability for the ACC/B1G Challenge match-up at #3 Iowa and First-Team All-American Luka Garza was in doubt.

Brooks did play. And he played really, really well.

Like the rest of the Tar Heels, he started the game slowly, missing his first two shots as Carolina fell behind Iowa 0-8. But when Garrison’s offense was quiet, so too was Garza’s. The Hawkeye talisman, who famously outscored entire teams by himself in the first half, didn’t score his first basket until five minutes into the contest.

Brooks had plenty of help from his buddies. The post players totaled 14 fouls out of a possible 20 (many in the “Charmin Ultra-Soft” category), and Walker Kessler didn’t have as many because he was kept on the bench for long stretches of time. Roy Williams, during his press conference, said the key to defending Garza was, “...You’ve got to try and cut down his percentage first. That is your job, try and cut down his percentage first and if you do that that helps you.”

With Brooks providing a bulk of UNC’s Garza coverage, the senior Hawkeye was a relatively inefficient 6-20 shooting (0-1 3-pt, 4-8 FT) and finished with a modest (by his standards) 16 points. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, his teammates went absolutely bonkers from three, hitting an absurd 17-40 (42.5%!!!) shots, which was more than enough volume to seal Carolina’s fate.

In this clip, Brooks forces a tough shot and miss from Garza. Only a complete absence of a box out from Leaky Black or Andrew Platek leads to Brooks fouling on the play:

Offensively, Brooks had a typical night. He was an efficient 7-11 shooting with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds. He was also 3-3 from the free throw line, on a night when Armando Bacot did not get to the line, and the two freshmen posts shot 50% (Sharpe: 3-6, Kessler: 0-2).

Close your eyes and imagine this awesome highlight dunk from Garrison: