It wasn't much of a surprise that when the starting lineups were announced, Cole Anthony wasn’t a part of them. When you’ve missed over six weeks with a torn meniscus, you at least want to try and ease back into action if you can.
When Cole finally did come in, it was to a loud ovation from the fans, and an expectation that the season could still be salvaged. Unfortunately, there was some pretty noticeable rust for the freshman, and the Tar Heels started revering to their old habits of standing around and letting Cole do the work. It didn’t help that Cole couldn’t make a shot to start, and a game that had started as one that could be another easy win became anything but.
All that said, Cole was still the best player on the floor last night by a long shot.
If there was a plan in place to limit his minutes, it was out the window by the second half. While he didn’t start the half, once he came in he never left. He started getting his legs under him more, and then started making shots. By the end, he had the confidence to want to take the last shot.
If only they had some sort of cohesive play for that shot...
Still, Carolina is not in the game had it not been for Anthony. His final line was a little bit of everything: 26 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two three-pointers. His shooting was rough, 5-14 overall and 2-8 from three, and all in 26 minutes, but where he really made a contribution was at the free throw line.
It was a good sign that Cole was not scared to drive and try to force contact, and the referees mostly rewarded the aggressiveness. Anthony ended up going 14-14 from the free throw line, a stat that is even more stark when you look at Garrison Brooks’ 0-7, which arguably cost the Tar Heels the game.
A special shoutout goes to Brandon Robinson. The senior stalwart played 37 minutes and had 12 points, showing some confidence and aggressiveness that was missing when Cole was healthy before. Unfortunately, it was his “foul” that sealed the game for Boston College. In a perfect encapsulation of the Tar Heels’ season, that foul also saw B-Rob injure his ankle. While the results were negative for a break, chances are pretty low we’ll see him tomorrow night against the Seminoles.
Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot both recorded double-doubles, but it was a failure of the Tar Heels to take full advantage of these two that created the situation for them to lose. As noted, Brooks missing all seven of his free throws didn’t help the cause either.
It was good to see the version of Cole we were expecting in the second half, it’s just a shame that the hole the Tar Heels are in appears to be too deep for him to make an NCAA Tournament run.