It does my heart a lot of good to be able to write a recap about a win again. It has been far too long since we’ve had a chance to meet this way. Some people may have already checked out on this season, and it’s hard to blame them for not wanting to put themselves through heartbreak after heartbreak, but tonight felt good.
It felt good for us as fans, seeing our favorite team snap a seven-game losing streak against a team that was sitting squarely on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament before tonight. It felt good for the players, and watching their excitement on the floor for themselves and their brothers took a little of the sting out of suffering through this season to this point.
Garrison Brooks was absolutely huge against State tonight in a game where he was questionable because of the flu. He scored 30 points and pulled down nine rebounds, but his biggest contributions came down the stretch at the free throw line. Free throws have been a menace for Brooks lately, but he sank 14 of his 16 attempts on the night to help seal victory for Carolina after the Wolfpack turned to desperation fouling.
Although Cole Anthony chipped in 19 points and five assists, the contributions of Christian Keeling cannot be overlooked. He scored 16 points and had seven boards, and he also made two of the team’s three three-pointers. For a kid who has been dragged through the mud this season, seeing him figure it all out has been very rewarding. It’s hard to be happier for someone.
The team played with as much cohesiveness as we’ve seen all season. They looked like a real team playing with a purpose, and it showed in the execution on the floor. Things did get dicey down the line, as they have so many times this year, but Brooks’ execution from the free throw line kept this one from turning out like so many of the other games have before.
It’s hard to even guess how many games this team has left. They’ll get to play in Greensboro, and their fate will rest squarely on them. If they play like they did tonight, they have a chance to win at least a couple games. Here’s hoping this same team shows up.
There aren’t a lot of hard, universal truths in life, but Roy Williams beating State is still one of them. It’s a good day to be a Tar Heel.