Updated: Dec 3, 2019
When Armando Bacot was signed to the Tar Heels 2019 class, there was a lot of hope that he could bring that typical big man presence that Roy Williams’ teams had lacked since Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks left campus. While he had shown flashes in the Tar Heels first six games of the season, Friday’s 78-74 win over the Oregon Ducks was the most complete performance that we’ve seen from Bacot.
Bacot finished the Tar Heels 3rd Place Game win with a team high in points and rebounds, pouring in 23 and 12. Of his 12 rebounds, seven of them came on the offensive end and resulted in six second chance points and a couple of opportunities at the free throw line. Bacot was efficent from the field, knocking down seven of the nine shots that he took and had his best day of the season from the free throw line, converting on nine of his ten opportunities at the charity stripe.
While his performance on the offensive end was strong, the most encouraging part of his game on Friday morning was his play on the defensive end. Bacot was a force inside for the Tar Heels after struggling against Michigan, finishing with six blocks on the day and five defensive rebounds. Bacot’s six blocks were the most by a Tar Heel since Brice Johnson’s eight in the first round tournament game against Florida Gulf Coast in 2016.
Bacot was the main part of the Tar Heels best offensive performance of the season. The Tar Heels shot 48.5% from the field in the first half, their best percentage of the season in a half, and knocked down a season-high five 3-pointers. While those numbers dropped off a bit in the second half, the team showed that they are capable of knocking down shots. Now they just need to make it consistent.
There were a lot of concerns about this team following yesterday’s troubling showing against Michigan. This Tar Heel team responded with their most complete performance of the season to earn their first big win of the season. This team is still a work in progress, but this was a major step forward for this inexperienced group.
-The Tar Heels have put together some great defensive performances this season, but Friday’s may have been their best. The Tar Heels held the Ducks to just 35.7% shooting from the field, including just 27.6% on layups. The Tar Heels finished the day with 12 blocks, their most in a game since they had 12 in a game against Clemson back in 2007.
-Brandon Robinson closed out his trip to the Bahamas with the best statistical performance of his career on Friday. Robinson dropped a career-high 13 points on 4-8 from the field and knocked down three of the Tar Heels six made 3-pointers. Robinson averaged 8.0 points per game on 12-27 shooting and provided plenty of defensive help in his three games back from injury.
-K.J. Smith is the guy that no one will be talking about when recapping this game, but he provided eight huge minutes off the bench for the Tar Heels on Friday. Smith took over for Cole Anthony at the 10:16 mark of the second half and played all the way until the 3:45 mark, dishing out two big assists and turning the ball over just once. Smith did exactly what he needed to in minutes on the floor and was actually able to head off the floor having kept the Tar Heels in the lead.
-The Tar Heels entered the day shooting just over 60% from the free throw line as a team, but they responded with a phenomenal day from the stripe to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Tar Heels converted on 20 of their 21 free throw shots, which is a big reason why the Tar Heels were able to get the win.