There really wasn’t much of a doubt in terms of who was going to be the player of the game for this one. It started early on when the basketball account had to show off Caleb’s choice of footwear for the game, and he had to add how he felt about it around an hour before tipoff:
“best shoe game in college basketball” ♂️ https://t.co/tiq1r4lxkn— Caleb Love (@caleb2love) December 2, 2021
It didn’t take him long to let everyone know he was ready to make a mark on the game, too:
Love take FLIGHT pic.twitter.com/tnzvPh4lkN— tarheelupdate (@tarheelupdate) December 2, 2021
The play wasn’t just a thunderous dunk, but a focused and energy-driven defensive play to knock the ball loose, and then immediately run to the basket to where all Bacot had to do was hurl it in his direction. Love could do the rest. The effort was emblematic of the one he gave all night, flying all over the court and running the offense well to both score and set up his teammates.
When things stagnated a bit, Love decided to give the Tar Heels the lead at halftime with a tremendous individual piece of shotmaking:
Big-time 3 by love to end the half pic.twitter.com/vCERSEv7MG— tarheelupdate (@tarheelupdate) December 2, 2021
And then in the second half the Tar Heels quickly learned that Michigan had no answer for them in the post. Armando Bacot quickly helped Carolina extend their lead, finishing with eleven points and fourteen boards himself. On any other night, he’d have been a strong candidate, but, well, Caleb decided that he needed to do this...
Caleb Love with another huge dunk pic.twitter.com/ItrXgFePvc— tarheelupdate (@tarheelupdate) December 2, 2021
Love was feeling it, and the dunk was more than just an exclamation point, it was the result of good team offense as Kerwin Walton set a small screen around the free throw line to spring a little daylight, and Love was able to do the rest. Then, Caleb decided it was time to test his range:
The Caleb Love show. pic.twitter.com/bUK9JeQCHM— tarheelupdate (@tarheelupdate) December 2, 2021
Love finished shooting 9/16 on the night, 4/7 from behind the arc, had four rebounds, four assists, and only two turnovers. He also had three steals, but only two fouls. You really have to see that whole line to understand the total effort given, and it was absolutely the spark that lit the whole team on fire.
Wednesday may mark the fork in the road moment for the season, with a renewed defensive effort and signs that Caleb Love may not need to just see “Duke” on the opposing jersey to go off. We’ll see if the Tar Heels can continue this on Sunday against Georgia Tech.