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UNC vs. Gardner-Webb - Player of the Game: Pete Nance

UNC’s new starter looked more assertive in his third game, pacing the Heels in the first half.

NCAA Basketball: Gardner-Webb at North Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes when you show up at a new school, job, or team, you don’t want to ruffle feathers right away. Lie low, survey the scene, pick your moments. That’s what Pete Nance did in UNC’s first two games, playing heavy minutes (34 and 33) with minimal output (6 and 7 points).

Pete Nance is done with that now.

Carolina got off to another slow start in the Dean Dome against a fired up Gardner-Webb. Excluding Nance from the team’s statistics, the Heels shot 4-for-24 from the field for 10 points. Y’all!

Fortunately for them, Pete Nance was shaking loose from the shackles of politeness, and was channeling his inner Luke Maye. Wearing the famous 32 jersey, Nance got things going from the outside, hitting 3 of 4 three-pointers, and two turnarounds, while going 3 for 3 from the foul line for 16 points.

He also played tough defense, anchoring the middle while Armando Bacot rested, and notched three blocks and four rebounds. It is because of Pete Nance and Pete Nance alone that Carolina went into the half with a four-point lead.

The second half was a mixed bag, as Nance began getting whistled for some nonsense fouls (fouling out on a horse shit charge when posting up, and never lowering his shoulder) and dealing with some jammed fingers on his left hand. He ended the game with 18 points.

By then, Caleb Love and Armando Bacot had begun taking control of the game, and Nance’s points were no longer needed. Make no mistake though, without the beachhead Nance established, the whole operation could have fallen apart. Nance led all Heels in +/- with an exceptional +18, doubling the next highest contributor Leaky Black, who was +9.

Three games into the season, and this much is certain; Pete Nance is not Brady Manek. And that’s fine! He showed tonight that he can provide Carolina with something different, but something that will help the Tar Heels reach their goals. As long as he doesn’t get called for soft fouls as much.