A couple of days ago, Matt gave y’all a choose-your-own-adventure Player of the Game article, because the game against Boston College was so bereft of quality that nobody really stuck out for playing well. Against N.C. State on Roy Williams/Michael Jordan/The Championship Team of 1982 Day, the Heels bounced back in a huge way, getting the first biscuits of Hubert Davis’ career en route to a 100-80 rout that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score. So I’ve got the opposite problem: The team was firing on all cylinders to the point where I can’t really pick out a single performance that stands out above the rest of them. So while I’m not going to go choose-your-adventure, I am just going to make 4 cases and let y’all sound off on who impressed you the most on Saturday afternoon.
Armando Bacot didn’t look back at his offensive peak yet, missing a couple of layups early and not really looking confident in his post footwork. But he did have a slightly easier time scoring and finished with an 18-point, 13-rebound performance on 5/10 shooting (8/10 from the free throw line). He showed off nice touch on a hook shot over his left shoulder and rim-ran as well as he has this season. On the defensive end, he contributed a career-high tying 6 blocks as N.C. State continued to fail straight-line drives at him, doing a lot to hold the Wolfpack’s scoring down as UNC built a big early lead.
Caleb Love led the Heels in scoring with 21 points on 6/16 shooting (4/6 from three, 5/5 from the line). He hit three three-pointers early to set the tone of the game and never let up. His two makes from inside the arc might have been his highest degree-of-difficulty shots; one was an and-one layup and the other was an extremely acrobatic finish as he sliced through the lane. Love also led the team in assists with five — on a day where, for all of their offensive proficiency, the Heels assisted on just half their made baskets — and had just one turnover, and also tied for the team lead in steals with 2.
R.J. Davis had another hyper-efficient offensive game, scoring 17 points on 8 shots including 3/4 from three-point land. After some early hiccups, he handled State’s pressure well as a primary ballhandler and had one of his better facilitating games, handing out four assists to just one turnover.
And Leaky Black led the team in minutes and shut down Dereon Seabron, one of the conference’s premier scorers. State basically runs on the contributions they can get from Seabron, Terquavion Smith, and Jericole Hellems, and Black’s ability to limit the bigger Seabron to just two points on 1/6 shooting, and also not letting him dominate the boards, was a huge reason UNC got so comfortable so early. Black had an understated 5/4/4/1 stat line, doing a little of everything (including hitting another corner 3!), but it’s his defensive effort that really lands him here.
So what did y’all think? Is Player of the Game a team award today, or did one of the above performances stick out above the rest? Did I miss somebody? Let us know in the comments!