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UNC Basketball vs. Virginia: Player of the Game - Armando Bacot

The Tar Heel big man hits rarified air in a career performance.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We at Tar Heel Blog are Armando Bacot stans, not sycophants. We’re not trying to write up Armando for player of the game over and over because it’s easy or fun. But when you put together a performance that will be talked about and measured against for decades — and against an opponent that has beaten Carolina seven straight times — there’s only so much you can do.

First off, the other contenders. On any other day, Caleb Love and Brady Manek would have had a good shot at winning player of the game. Carolina was short-handed with Kerwin Walton out due to Covid protocols, and Dawson Garcia still out due to concussion. Love and Manek played big minutes (39 and 32, respectively) and put up points when scoring was concentrated among three starters (16 and 19 points). They combined for 9 of UNC’s 11 three-point makes on a day where the Heels hit 44%.

All of that gets tossed to the side when compared to the dominating performance Armando Bacot put up. Here’s what he did:

Here is the historical context:

Sean May. Tyler Hansbrough. We’re getting into the cream of the crop of Carolina legends. Armando Bacot is putting up ridiculous numbers, and the Heels need him to score every point and grab every rebound in order to reach their goals.

Myron Medcalf’s point is germane here because even though Virginia is in a down year, they’re still a Tony Bennett-coached team. Bacot didn’t put these numbers up against chumps. The Hoos are only giving up 57.7 points per game, tenth best in the NCAA.

Bacot had 12 offensive rebounds. Virginia only had seven. Bacot’s 21 total rebounds were more than half of UNC’s total (36). The Cavaliers couldn’t live with him. He scored, facilitated, boarded, and even (accidentally) popped Francisco Caffaro on the nose.

Hubert Davis’ model of four-out-one-in basketball will only work if Bacot can control the paint like he did tonight. There will be nights against opponents like Purdue that can overwhelm Carolina with size that may need recalibration, but for the ACC as it stands, this dog can hunt.

And what does the UNC big man think of his game-winning performance?