Any time you win a game by 42 points, you can pretty safely say that everything was working. Offense and defense, inside and outside, everything went well for North Carolina in their 101-59 win over Notre Dame.
A dominant effort in the second half took the final margin to what it was, but UNC was is control for the vast majority of it. They had a comfortable lead for so long thanks in large part to the effort of the frontcourt. If you really wanted to, you could probably give it to any of the three bigs that played major minutes. However, for the sheer impressive hilarity of his performance, it goes to Walker Kessler.
The freshman was all over the place for UNC, finishing with 16 points on 7-11 shooting while also grabbing 12 rebounds, five offensive. However, he was also a force on the defensive end of the floor, finishing with eights blocks and two steals. That’s very nearly a triple double, and not a normal one! There was also this:
WALKER KESSLER #UNC pic.twitter.com/twzJTTdtfE— Tar Heel Tapes (@tarheeltapes) March 11, 2021
He was doing it all.
Before the game, it emerged that Garrison Brooks was still dealing with the ankle injury he suffered against Duke. He didn’t start, but the team said he was available. Turns out, he wasn’t needed. Kessler, Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe handled things just fine.
Kessler got the award, but, as mentioned, Bacot and Sharpe are also due quite a bit of credit. Bacot led Carolina in scoring, putting up 20 points on 7-10 shooting, while also grabbing 13 rebounds. Day’Ron Sharpe put up 14 points and 10 rebounds. The three of them on their own outrebounded Notre Dame 35-31.
The three of them also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds total. UNC’s final shooting numbers total were pretty good (50.6 FG%, 37.5% from three), thanks mostly to a ridiculous second half (54.5% and also 54.5% from three). However even in the first half when they weren’t quite as not, the Heels were still able to build up a lead. Thanks because, as a team, Carolina grabbed 25 offensive rebounds. Consider also that they missed 38 field goal attempts. That is a pretty good ratio of missed shots that UNC immediately got back.
Beyond the three bigs as mentioned, the freshman guard duo of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis both had solid games. Love went for 15 points and six assists, while Davis had 14 and three steals.
It’s hard to imagine any other potential wins in this ACC Tournament coming that easy for UNC. However, if the Walker Kessler and the bigs perform like they did against Notre Dame, maybe they will.