Once again, North Carolina could not help but play a dramatic game against Louisville. They managed to put the game away with some timely late baskets and free throws, and while there wasn’t any controversy this time around, it was still a nerve-wracker.
With under four minutes left, a pair of key plays, one made basket and one assist, from one player essentially put the game away. That player, who also finished as the Heels’ leading scorer, is Brady Manek, who gets our player of the game for UNC’s 70-63 win over Louisville.
Manek led all scorers on Monday night, going for 17 points, while also finishing with three rebounds and two assists. It wasn’t his most efficient night, as he went 6-12 from the floor and 3-9 from three, however he provided some key moments that helped the Heels come away with a win.
Most of Manek’s production on offense came in the first half as he helped UNC get off to a decent start. He knocked down three three-pointers in the first seven minutes, accounting for nine of Carolina’s first 16 points, as they opened up a small lead. However, Louisville fought back and the teams ended up trading baskets for most of the rest of the game.
Much of the second half was UNC going up by three-ish points, getting a stop on defense and then being unable to extend the lead any further after it. The game look destined to keep doing that and down to the final possession when Manek was involved in a series of crucial plays.
First with three and a half minutes left he knocked down a two to put the Heels up four points. The Cardinals responded, as they seemed to keep doing in the game, with a three, getting back within one. Then with a minute and a half left, he dished a beautiful assist to Armando Bacot for a dunk. That particular basket ended up being the dagger, it put Carolina up three and Louisville wouldn’t score again.
Other possible POTGs include Armando Bacot, who put up another double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. However for reasons that aren’t entirely his fault, he didn’t get a ton of touches in the second half. There’s also RJ Davis, who went for 16 points, including a couple key baskets in the second half.
While he’s not an actual contender for player of the game, I wanted to make a quick note of Caleb Love. Against Louisville, he showed both the very good and very bad that he can bring in this game, sometimes doing both in the span of seconds. He went for 16 points, and also had three steals, a couple at key junctures of the game. However, he also turned the ball over five times and didn’t particularly shoot a great percentage. He played all 40 minutes and was genuinely a key to the win in ways, and a reason it was so close in others.
It was both a short rest game and a crucial game for UNC on Monday night. It took all 40 minutes for them to finish it off, but the got the win, thanks to the likes of Manek.