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%.
Caleb Love playing like he had McDonald’s sprite before the game n stuff lol— Brandon Anderson (@THBBrandon) January 8, 2022
All of that gets tossed to the side when compared to the dominating performance Armando Bacot put up. Here’s what he did:
What a DAY for Armando Bacot— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 8, 2022
▫️Seventh straight double-double
Bacot becomes only the second Tar Heel to collect 20 rebounds in the Dean E. Smith Center.@UNC_Basketball @iget_buckets35 | #CarolinaFamily pic.twitter.com/f7BbuMWU04
Here is the historical context:
Armando Bacot joins Sean May as the only North Carolina players with 20+ rebounds in a game at the Smith Center.— Bryan Ives (@awaytoworthy) January 8, 2022
The building opened in 1986.
Armando Bacot was unstoppable today. Been a long time since a player did that to a Virginia squad.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) January 8, 2022
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?
Today was fun— Armando Bacot Jr. (@iget_buckets35) January 8, 2022