Armando Bacot’s record night — and possible curtain call — in the Dean E. Smith Center will be overshadowed by the loss to Duke. Losing to the Blue Devils always sucks, but the possible death blow to UNC’s NCAA Tournament hopes will make the pill that much more bitter to swallow.
Regardless, in an ugly game mired with poor performances across the board, Armando Bacot performed at the level required to win, but didn’t have enough support to lift the team. Caleb Love, Pete Nance, and Leaky Black cannot all struggle to score simultaneously if Carolina wants to win.
Bacot made an immediate impact, scoring the game’s first points, and attacked the paint stronger than he did in the first match-up in Durham:
That’s one way to start the game— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) March 4, 2023
Dereck Lively, the 7’1” pogo stick, bothered him in the post that night, but Bacot turned the tables, saddling the freshmen with four fouls. Lively only played 17 minutes as a result.
And what became of those fouls? Five trips to the free throw line, where he hit 9-10 shots. Bacot finished the game with 17 points on 4-8 shooting from the field. And on a night where Carolina only shot 30.4% from the field, those trips to the charity stripe were a lifeline. The Tar Heels just couldn’t hang on long enough to pull themselves out of the current.
Now, about that scoring. You may remember that leading up the Florida State game, Armando was 12 points away from passing Michael Jordan for 14th all-time at UNC with 1,789 (coincidentally, the year that the University of North Carolina was founded) points.
He is unlikely to reach Tyler Hansbrough (2,872 points) for the #1 spot this season in ACC Tournament play, and the NCAA Tournament, if Carolina somehow manages to steal a bid.
Aside from his scoring, Bacot pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots, playing excellent defense while managing three fouls.
Now that Carolina’s regular season is over, the Heels will need Armando to perform at this level or better for all of their ACC Tournament games. Hopefully there are many of them, and if we’re lucky, they’ll end with Bacot climbing a ladder to cut down some nets en route to the NCAA Tournament.