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UNC vs. Duke - Player of the Game: Joel Berry

Plenty of praise to go around in Carolina’s win over Duke.

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

You could make an argument for several different people when picking a player of the game against Duke.

Theo Pinson finished with four points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block. He did what he been doing a lot this season: not scoring a lot but doing pretty much everything else. Cameron Johnson went for 18 points and 13 rebounds, and hit a big three late after Duke had cut UNC’s lead to three. Kenny Williams scored 12 of UNC’s first 19 points, finishing with 20. Luke Maye doesn’t have a big argument, but even he finished with 15 and eight.

It really took everyone to come out with the win, but if we’re forced to choose one, we’ll give it to Joel Berry.

Like he had a couple times this season, Berry was not the most efficient person shooting the ball. He went just 7-20. However, his overall play was a key part of the run at the start of the second half that gave UNC the lead for good.

Berry finished with 21 points, which led the Tar Heels. He also finished with six assists and four rebounds. Three of those assists came late in the first half or early in the second half, which is when UNC made their big run. He and Carolina noticeably started attacking more around that time, which not only allowed him to get layups, but also opened up the game for the rest of the team.

Berry did miss his last five field goals, but that was part of a run where no one on Carolina could get a bucket. That stretch tanked his numbers, but also the team’s shooting numbers fell to just 39% for the game.

The game was won thanks in large part to how UNC played on the defensive end. While again, that was a massive team effort from everyone, he and the rest of the team did a really good job stifling Duke’s backcourt. Grayson Allen went for just nine points. Trevon Duval, who Berry handled for much of the game, went for nine, and shot just 2-9 from the field. Gary Trent Jr. and Alex O’Connell both had solid games, but Berry and the rest of the team made sure the Duke backcourt didn’t beat them as it has so often in recent years.

Again, there are several different ways player of the game could have gone, and everyone will have different opinions. It took a team effort, and no one player exemplifies this team more than Joel Berry II.