Carolina lost to a strong Florida State team yesterday afternoon in Tallahassee. The Tar Heels put up a tremendous fight, clawing back from an 11-point deficit in both halves to close the margin within two points at times.
Just as the team struggled to put together a complete performance to close the gap and win the game, so too did every player show good things in some aspects, but not in others. That made picking a player of the game extremely difficult.
By process of elimination, I couldn’t present these players:
Garrison Brooks - Efficient 12 points (including hitting 6-7 free throws!) but only one rebound. One.
Kerwin Walton - 14 points, including three 3-pointers, but defense remains a “needs improvement” area (nearly fouled out as well).
Armando Bacot - 9 points, 5 rebounds, but why did he only play 17 minutes?!!
Caleb Love - 11 points, including three made 3-pointers! But zero assists and four turnovers is bad, and his defense still needs to improve. I’m hoping that his improved shooting (in relative terms) and this open court dunk can be the spark to a future offensive explosion:
Anthony Harris - Incredible cameo appearance and a real difference maker. I would’ve probably picked him with more time on the court, which I’m glad he didn’t get since it was basically a slip ‘n slide. Don’t need a third knee injury.
That leaves R.J. Davis. The freshman point guard was a big reason why UNC was able to stay in the game for large stretches. He scored a team-high 16 points off efficient splits (67% FG, 67% 3PT, 100% (2-2) FT). He had three assists with only one turnover. He also contributed four rebounds and initiated breaks on his own against Florida State’s full-court pressure.
R.J. Davis was just as guilty as Caleb Love of pounding the ball a bit. Both point guards found getting the ball into the post a tough task and the offense looked really stagnant at times. But on a night where the posts only contributed 27 points, each basket Davis provided was precious.
Davis has found his forays into the paint fraught with danger all season, but it looks like he’s figuring out where he can make space to get to the rim, and when to pull out for a floater. With Kerwin spacing teams out with his shooting, and R.J. able to attack off the bounce, the Tar Heels should find better spacing for their posts to eat later in the season. Not every team will be as long and impervious to foul calls as Florida State was. Better days are ahead.