Armando Bacot is leaving quite the legacy at North Carolina, which hopes to continue its hot stretch Tuesday when it visits Syracuse in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Fresh off a record-setting performance, Bacot has helped North Carolina (14-6, 6-3 ACC) win five of its last six games and nine of its last 11 overall. Most recently, the Tar Heels notched an 80-69 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday as Bacot registered 23 points and 18 rebounds.
As part of that effort, the senior forward passed Tyler Hansbrough for the Tar Heels’ all-time rebounding record with 1,221, and he also surpassed Billy Cunningham’s all-time school mark with his 61st career double-double.
“Every day and practice, shootaround, game, you know that he’s gonna give his best on both ends of the floor for himself, for the team, for this program,” coach Hubert Davis said. “And for him to pass Tyler Hansbrough, Billy Cunningham for all time double-doubles in points and rebounds, it’s unbelievable. He’s a fantastic player. He’s one of the best players in Carolina history and I’m just really, really proud.”
RJ Davis also was pivotal in the win over NC State, posting 26 points on 14-of-14 free-throw shooting.
Bacot (17.8 points), Davis (16.8) and Caleb Love (16.3) are the top three scorers for the Tar Heels, while the Orange (13-7, 6-3) have a “big three” of their own.
Joe Girard (17.5 points) is Syracuse’s top scorer, followed by Judah Mintz (14.9) and Jesse Edwards (13.9). Girard was the standout in Saturday’s 80-63 win over Georgia Tech, knocking down six 3-pointers en route to 28 points and earning the praise of Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner.
“I thought (Girard) hit some tough shots and he was the difference in the game, plus our 16 turnovers,” Pastner said. “Girard is a really great player and he is playing like a first- or second-team All-Conference player. He is a shot-maker. In the past, they had other guys, but (this season) he has had to take over.”
Freshman Maliq Brown added a career-high 18 points off the bench against the Yellow Jackets.
“I think he caught Georgia Tech not aware,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s hard to get eight layups in college basketball and he just gets in position around there and he’s getting better all the time.”
The Tar Heels won last season’s meeting 88-79 in overtime and lead the all-time series 15-6.
–Field Level Media