Armando Bacot finished with 23 points to go along with 12 boards and six blocks as No. 6 North Carolina bounced back from a disappointing loss to Michigan to beat No. 11 Oregon, 78-74, in the third-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Cole Anthony had 19 points for the Tar Heels, hitting six straight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
North Carolina had held a 10 point lead with just over four minutes remaining, but the Ducks reeled off nine straight to make things interesting.
Bacot was the story of this game. He arrived in Chapel Hill as a McDonald’s All-American with the reputation for being one of the very best low-post players in the Class of 2019, but to date, he has had limited success in college. He dominated an overmatched Elon and had 12 points and 15 boards against Alabama, but he had yet to play more than 26 minutes in a game and had only shown flashes of the dominance we saw at the high school level.
On Friday, however, in his third game in three days, a game that tipped off at 10:30 a.m. local time, Bacot played a career-high 30 minutes while completely overwhelming the Oregon frontline.
As a team, North Carolina grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and finished the game with 22 second chance points. Bacot was the engine that generated that, and given how successful Roy Williams has been building rosters around ball-dominant, shot-jacking point guards and a pair of bigs that clean the offensive glass, this is a great sign.
I was also quite impressed with Brandon Robinson, who finished with 13 points and four assists while using his length to shut down Oregon’s Payton Pritchard in the second half. He also knocked down three threes. The 6-foot-7 senior was not someone that had much hype entering the year, but on Friday, he did the things that Roy Williams is going to ask him to do all season long.
Putting stock into one game performances is risky, but seeing Bacot and Robinson play like this against a team that could end up winning the Pac-12 is certainly a good sign.