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UNC vs NC State Player of the Game: Luke Maye

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Was there another option?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In UNC’s win against Duke, several players shined. Three players had identical ratios of shots made/shots attempted, namely Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cameron Johnson all going 7/15 (for 15, 20, and 18 points respectively). Joel Berry took over, scoring 21 on 20 shots. All of them made important scoring contributions, and this made several different players viable PoG candidates.

There was none of that this time. Luke Maye took control of finishing the offense, taking 22 of UNC’s 71 shots, and making 15 of them, en route to a dominant 33-point performance. As I said he needed to, Maye scored from all over the floor, including from deep (and I mean deep), with mid-range jumpers, floaters, and under the basket, making himself a chore to guard. This alone would have been huge, but he also dominated the boards, with 8 offensive rebounds and 9 defensive rebounds.

NC State’s three frontcourt players combined for 11 boards, which should show how thoroughly Maye outplayed them. He was particularly dangerous in the second half, where he claimed 27 of his points and 9 rebounds (again, State’s frontcourt combined for 11 in double that time) and generally made defenders look silly. We even got a repeat Luke throwdown from his last time in Raleigh, this one coming on an off-ball cut to the basket where he was in the air before the Wolfpack could blink. He ended up with a respectable defensive day as well; though he was bullied some in the post, he prevented NCSU’s frontcourt from dominating the game like they wanted to, and had 2 blocks and a steal.

It wasn’t all sunshine for Maye, as he struggled to play a clean game. He finished with four fouls and 6 turnovers, many of which were caused by silly play rather than any prowess of the opponent. As an upperclassman, he should be expected to be more consistent, but I think we can excuse him for doing as much as he did on the offensive end. It’s also still his first year with this kind of play time and exposure, so some hiccups were inevitable. We should be glad that this one came alongside a 33-point game.

Check out everything he did to NCSU in the second half here: