Against a full house at PNC Arena, the North Carolina Tar Heels won its third-straight ACC road game and now sit alone atop the ACC standings.
Once again, Carolina found a way to win.
It may not have been pretty, but the UNC defense made another statement- this time versus a team known for its balanced scoring.
NC State had a clear game plan for this game: stop RJ Davis and Armando Bacot.
The Wolfpack’s tough defense and double teams, combined with balls simply not falling through the hoop, was a great recipe in the first half.
With the struggles from Carolina’s two stars, who would step up?
Far and away, that was Harrison Ingram.
From the opening tip to the final horn, Ingram was inspired on both ends of the court.
In the first half, Ingram was UNC’s best defender. He made clean switches and was the only one effectively collapsing on the ball.
Ingram’s positioning was excellent throughout the game. With several minutes left in the first half, Ingram already had 10 rebounds and ended the half with nearly half Carolina’s total rebounds.
Not to mention, Ingram was 3-7 from the floor and was the second-leading scorer for the Tar Heels heading into the locker room.
One of his best observations was taking advantage of matchups, especially in the first half. Even though the baskets were not falling as they normally do for the Tar Heels around the rim, Ingram took advantage of every opportunity to work his way to the rim.
Ingram used his size against a 6’ 6” freshman to move to the basket, and even when NCSU brought another defender to him, Ingram continued to get it inside. His persistence in getting to the rim, even with defensive challenges and just plain bad bounces off the rim, is a great sign for Carolina if he continues to do so. The points will come.
After the break, the Tar Heels started their grind against the Wolfpack, and other players started to have their chances. Ingram tallied just three points in the second half, but his contributions on defense and the glass were invaluable.
Ingram finished with nine points and 19 rebounds.
Ingram broke his previous collegiate rebound record for the second time this season.
Another cherry on top: Ingram’s 19 rebounds are the most for a Carolina player against NC State. He broke the record of 18 rebounds held by Bacot and Billy Cunningham.
Ingram’s hustle, epitomized by his leap for a ball into the high-rent district of the Wolfpack Club, was never in doubt last night. He was a threat on every inch of the court, from guarding from arc to rim to being an offensive threat from the paint and three-point distance.
Despite a point total below his season average, Ingram was Carolina’s most consistent player and undoubtedly the best Tar Heel in the first half of the game. He led all Tar Heels in minutes and was the key factor in last night’s victory.
Carolina is 56-17 versus NC State since 1990.