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UNC vs. Radford: Player of the Game - Armando Bacot

The Carolina big starts things off with a dominating performance.

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

In their first official game of the season, the Tar Heels came away with an 86-70 win over Radford. Despite the fact that the Highlanders were within eight points with less than nine minutes to go, this one somehow felt more comfortable than the score often indicated. Part of that was due to Radford’s ability to knock down some tough shots in the first. What stood out the most, though, was Carolina’s depth and commitment to pushing the ball, ultimately tiring out the Highlanders in the second stanza.

Carolina had plenty of new faces on display but it was a familiar one who came away with player of the game. Armando Bacot notched 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks while shooting 10-16 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. He finished with his 69th career double-double.

Radford really never had an answer for Bacot. In the first half, he and his teammates were able to break the double teams with some crisp, decisive ball movement leading to open threes (and makes!). The Heels got away from feeding the ball down low at times, leading to a tie in paint points at halftime (22-22). As expected, Hubert Davis made a concerted effort to get the ball to Bacot coming out of half, and as expected, Bacot delivered.

Radford may not be ACC-level competition, but you really saw things open up for Bacot in a way that we’ve perhaps never seen before. On multiple occasions, the attention he received in the paint allowed Carolina to truly break down the defense. Elliot Cadeau has truly elite vision and passing ability and guys like RJ Davis, Cormac Ryan, Paxson Wojcik, and Harrison Ingram can all knock down open threes. With all the threats around him, Bacot should be working with much more space this season.

It was encouraging to see so many guys find a way to make an impact. Davis (13), Ryan (13), and Ingram (12) all finished in double figures. Cadeau finished with five points and six assists in just 19 minutes of action. Seth Trimble checked in and made some impressive defensive stands while Jalen Washington and Jae’Lyn Withers showed off their offensive versatility with a few buckets. Although they had just ten fast break points, the Heels played with speed and managed to wear Radford down physically, mentally, and with foul trouble. There are certainly things to clean up, but this looked a lot more like the Carolina Basketball I’m accustomed to watching.