Where have we seen this before?
The entire UNC basketball team had an ugly first 20 minutes against Florida State and went into the halftime locker room down 11. One of the main reasons why Carolina couldn’t get anything on track was that leading scorer Armando Bacot picked up his second foul with nine minutes left in the first half, and sat the rest of the way. To that point, the sophomore forward had only scored three points. Florida State was fresh, deep, and in danger of pulling away.
Whatever motivational message Roy Williams passed to Bacot seemed to work. He was a man on fire when he re-entered the game, scoring on UNC’s first possession, and drawing a foul on RaiQuan Gray to complete the And-1. He hit a layup on the next trip down. With the attention Bacot required down low, Florida State’s defense had to sag, and the three-point shot opened up.
Caleb Love, then Kerwin Walton hit threes on consecutive trips, pulling the Heels within three points of the Seminoles. After Kerwin hit another three-pointer to tie the game, Armando Bacot had a huge block on the following FSU possession, then took a nice feed into the paint by Anthony Harris and finished an up-and-under to give Carolina its first lead of the game:
Bacot had a fine box score: 12 points (5-10 FGM), six rebounds (four offensive), one assist, two steals, and two blocks. The biggest takeaway from his performance, though, was how feeble UNC’s attack was in the first half when he sat with two fouls. In nine minutes, the Tar Heels only scored 13 points, and only a Leaky Black layup was scored in the paint. Carolina ceded territory to Florida State, territory that Armando Bacot usually dominates in.
Moving forward in the tournament, Carolina’s perimeter players have proven too hot and cold to be the primary means of scoring. In unfamiliar gyms, there’s too many variables, not to mention that aside from Kerwin Walton, our shooters just aren’t at the top level. For Carolina to make noise in the NCAA Tournament, the majority of their points will have to come from the paint, and Armando Bacot has been the steadiest source of that scoring. The Tar Heels would be wise to remember that.