UNC Demolishes State, 85-79; Sweeping Them for the Season
What a night in Chapel Hill.
The atmosphere was unexplainable. The Dean Dome hasn't been this explosive all season, but all it took was for NC State to walk through UNC's doors to turn a nightmarish season into a hell of a night.
The question of the late evening seemed to be echoed in every reporter's question, is NC State a rival? Let's look at the numbers:
- This win has snapped a seven-game losing streak. The second-longest in team history. The Heels lost eight in a row, 1950-1951 season.
- This is UNC's first win since beating NC State, January 27, 75-65.
- This is the 13th time in 17 seasons a Roy Williams-coached UNC team has won both regular-season games against NC State.
- Roy Williams is 37-4 against NC State all time. He's 32-4 at Carolina.
- The Tar Heels lead the series 160-78. Winning 32 of the last 36 meetings.
- Coach Williams is 200-87 in 287 ACC games in his 17-year tenure at UNC. Dean Smith won his 200th game in 278, and Mike Krzyzewski won his 200th in game 296. Smith, Coach K, and now, Coach Williams, are the only three coaches to win 200 regular-season ACC games.
Is it a rivalry? Here's what Coach Williams had to say about it,
And Cole Anthony, who played NC State for the first time this season,
"It ain't really much of a rivalry, just one side wins... I am just being honest."
While players and coaches alike avoided the rivalry question, there was someone they couldn't stop talking about, Garrison Brooks.
He couldn't talk, lost weight, and was out against Louisville for the first time in all 26 games this season, but it wouldn't keep him out too long even if he wasn't 100%. He had to play with his brothers.
"I just wanted to play. I missed playing Saturday, and I was emotional about it and really sad about it. I just wanted to play today.
Tonight was his night. Fans are witnessing something special brewing in the junior, a similar growth in former UNC star, Brice Johnson. If this is Brooks now, his senior year will definitely be one for history books. But it was against the Wolfpack that Brooks proved that UNC is still a top college basketball program despite its season, and as senior guard Brandon Robinson said, "We're not your typical last-place team. We can battle it out with anyone."
Brooks put up a stellar stat line, 14-16 FT, nine rebounds, and a game-high, 30 points. He joins former teammate Luke Maye and Marcus Paige, putting up 50+ points against State. But fans aren't the only ones celebrating Brooks tonight,
"Man, Garrison was balling. I just love to see all of my brothers succeed. We all played well tonight, I'm happy for everybody on this team", Cole Anthony says, "It feels like we turned a new leaf tonight."
"He's a tough kid to do what he did," Christian Keeling said. "There are not a lot of guys that have the toughness that Garrison has. He is just going to keep going at you, keep going at you. And you can bust his nose, poke him in the eye, he is still going to go at you. I love that guy. That man is going to be special."
This season, Brooks is averaging 15.7 pts (10th in scoring-ACC), 8.5 rebounds (fourth in rebounding-ACC) and shooting 53.2% in all games. He can only get better.
It's also worth noting, Christian Keeling played lights out against State, frequently putting the team on his back and shooting his legendary long twos. Keeling shot 7-9 and had a season-high 16 points (previous 15 against Wake Forest).
With just three games left in the season and the ACC tournament around the corner, the Heels can hope for a miracle and make it to .500.
What do you think? Is NC State a rivalry?
Next game: UNC heads to Syracuse Saturday, February 29th. Game time: 4pm.