This is the Harrison Barnes that North Carolina expected.
Voted a preseason All-American, the freshman swingman hit several bumpy patches this season, whether it was turnovers, bad shooting or simply poor play. But Wednesday night burned a growing reputation as “Mr. Clutch.”
Barnes scored five of his team-high 13 points in the final 69 seconds – including the game-winning 3 with six seconds left – during a 74-71 win against Miami (Fla.) that bumped the Heels to 14-5 overall and 4-1 in the ACC.
“I just feel really comfortable shooting that shot,” he told the Raleigh News & Observer. “A lot of people might not feel comfortable, might second-guess themselves. But in that moment in time, I feel comfortable enough in my ability.”
There’s a reason for that. Miami was the third straight victory Barnes hit a crucial shot. From the News & Observer:
On Jan. 13, he scored 8 of his 12 points (including two 3-pointers) in the final 3:38 to help the Tar Heels secure a 64-61 victory over Virginia Tech.
On Jan. 18, he buried a key 3-pointer with 4:58 left to help top Clemson, 75-65.
And then there was Wednesday, when he scored five points in the final 69 seconds – including that 3 in front of the Tar Heels’ bench, on an assist from Kendall Marshall.
That kid may just live up to the hype after all.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.