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UNC vs. Kentucky: Player of the Game — Armando Bacot

Since somebody had to win it, Armando Bacot is your player of the default.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at North Carolina Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was painful.

With the turmoil and disarray that wrecked havoc on the CBS Sports Classic, getting a game against Kentucky was the best news Carolina fans could have hoped for. Until about four and a half minutes into the game when it became apparent that the Heels were a good step (or two) slower than the Wildcats.

The team had an awful night defending, giving up countless drives to Sahvir Wheeler and letting Kentucky keep possessions alive with multiple offensive rebounds. The ghosts of Tennessee rose from the desert sand and haunted the Heels to a season-high 98 points surrendered.

In addition to the inability--or disinterest--in stopping penetration to the hoop, Carolina forget how to shoot. Hubert Davis’ team has shocked Tar Heel Nation with their competent shooting from distance, but were a dismal 1-13 from the 3-point line. That lack of shooting made points harder to come by in the paint.

Hence, why Armando Bacot is our player of the game.

Bacot was Carolina’s leading scorer with 22 points. He was the team’s leading rebounder with 10 boards.

A lot of those points were against a stout defender in Oscar Tshiebwe. The UK big man gave Bacot fits in the post and made him pull up short on numerous moves. It took Bacot a couple of attempts to figure our how to get around Tshiebwe, and after he saddled the Kentucky post with two fouls, space started opening up.

If only the Heels had a typical night shooting from 3-point distance, maybe they’d finish closer to a respectable loss. One immediate takeaway from this loss is that Bacot needs more help on the boards. One game after having three offensive rebound-putbacks, Brady Manek was held without a single board. Dawson Garcia only had five rebounds, and lost a key one off a missed free throw to 5’9” Wheeler.

Carolina will go as far as Armando Bacot can drag them, but that won’t be very far without help on the boards.