Before I give Armando Bacot his flowers, I want all of our friends in the Tar Heel Blog community to keep Terquavion Smith in their thoughts and prayers. He’s an incredible athlete, and by all accounts a fine young man who is going to miss time playing the game he loves. Hopefully, nothing prevents him from pursuing a pro career in the future.
We celebrate you Terquavion, especially for this:
Armando Bacot stood on the precipice of history. He was close to eclipsing Billy Cunningham’s school record 60 double-doubles and Tyler Hansbrough’s career rebounds total of 1,219. What better time to do it than at home in a game against the Wolfpack, especially when you consider the next game will be away at Syracuse.
Bacot had a mountain to climb in the form of NC State’s center D.J. Burns. At 6’9” 275 pounds (according to the NC State website, but that man is one peanut M&M away from 300), Burns was the rare opponent that could keep Armando from getting deep post position on offense, and back him down on defense.
Bacot didn’t have the cleanest first half, as it was pretty rough and tumble underneath the basket. He went into the interval with 7 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 fouls. Both he and Burns had to be careful with their defense to stay in the game, but in the second half, Bacot exploded. He finished the game with 23 points, 18 rebounds, and just 3 fouls. Most impressive was his ability to get to the line and convert; he shot 7-7 from the charity stripe.
Historic night for Armando Bacot @UNC_Basketball | #ACCMBBpic.twitter.com/SbaPdZJfNZ— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) January 22, 2023
On a night when the bench contributed just about nothing—Jalen Washington had the only bench point, going 1-2 from the free throw line—Bacot had to eat to make sure the Wolfpack starved. NC State’s forwards combined for 13 fouls (the team as a whole had a staggering 27 fouls for the game) as they all took turns trying to keep Bacot from doing as he pleased.
In the end, Carolina won comfortably in a game that most probably just wanted to get out of the way after Terquavion Smith’s injury. Bacot was subbed off with less than a minute to play in order to receive his standing ovation. After the game, Tyler Hansbrough himself was down on the court to recognize and congratulate the new king of the mountain in Chapel Hill:
What a moment for Armando Bacot @UNC_Basketball pic.twitter.com/jO3yfUJ47l— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 22, 2023
Bacot will be remembered forever at the University of North Carolina, even without the records. It is nice to have that place in history, though, if not just for a little while.