Bacot, UNC top NC State, but game marred by injury to Wolfpack star ::


— UNC’s Armando Bacot set two school records, including the program’s all-time rebounding mark, and the Tar Heels defeated NC State 80-69 on Saturday in Chapel Hill.

But the game was marred by a terrifying fall and injury to NC State star guard Terquavion Smith, who had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after sustaining neck and elbow injuries following a foul during a second-half drive.

Smith was fouled by UNC’s Leaky Black and crashed hard to the ground. The game was stopped for about 11 minutes as Smith was attended to by medical personnel. He left the court with what appeared to be a cast on his right arm and a towel over his face.

He was immediately ruled out of the game and taken to hospital.

“My prayers and thoughts are with Terquavion now,” said NC State coach Kevin Keatts after the game. He said he had no update on Smith’s status and waited. “Very emotional situation for me at the moment. The game is of course very important. I thought our guys were fighting, but my prayers and my thoughts always go to my players at times like this.”

UNC coach Hubert Davis opened his post-game press conference by discussing Smith.

“He’s just an incredible kid and an incredible player, and you never want anyone to get hurt,” Davis said. “My hope and my prayer is that he isn’t hurt or injured. He’s a fantastic player and I just wanted to talk about him and let you know I didn’t like to see that.”

Black was fouled a flagrant two and was sent out of the game.

“I knew Leaky Black so I don’t think he would play a dirty game,” said Keatts.

The game happened with 9:45 left in the second half. UNC led 59-49 at the time.

“I don’t think he had any bad intentions,” said NC State’s Casey Morsell. “I just think there are other ways to try and play the ball. He clearly went for the head and T (Smith) took a hard hit. It wasn’t necessary, but I don’t think he had any bad intentions.”

Davis called Black “a sweet, nice boy” and said Black asked for Smith’s number so he can contact him to make sure he’s okay.

Smith was Wolfpack’s leading scorer entering the game with 19.1 points per game. He had 12 points in 24 minutes before the injury.

Bacot sets records

Bacot, who had 23 points and 18 rebounds, became UNC’s all-time leader in rebounds and in double-doubles in the win. He surpassed Tyler Hansbrough in rebounds and Billy Cunningham in double-doubles (double digits in points and rebounds in a game).

Hansbrough was on hand for the match and was on the pitch with Bacot for a quick post-match ceremony. Bacot needed 17 rebounds to surpass Hansbrough’s school record of 1,219 career rebounds.

Bacot now has 61 double-doubles in 119 career games, surpassing Cunningham’s mark of 60.

“The best feeling as a coach is to know what a player or a team has to offer every day,” Davis said. “And for Armando, that’s what I have in him. Every day, in practice, shoot around, play, you know he’s going to give his best on both ends of the floor.”

“He’s a fantastic player. He’s one of the best players in Carolina history. I’m just really, really proud of him.”

RJ Davis led all scorers with 26 points, including 14-for-14 from the free throw line. Davis scored 10 points in a 12-0 UNC run in the middle of the first half.

The Tar Heels took control of the game early in the second half with an 8-0 run, including six free throws made to lift the lead to 53-44.

NC State never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

DJ Burns and Jarkel Joiner led the Wolfpack with 18 points each.

UNC was 36-of-39 from the free throw line and set a record for free throw percentage in a game with more than 30 attempts (92.3 percent). North Carolina entered the week with more free throws attempted than any other ACC team, and NC State has allowed more free throws than any team in the league.

“I’ve never been involved in a game where a team takes 39 free throws,” said Keatts, whose team made all 12 attempts from the line. “That means we need to get a little more aggressive.”


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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