"It's nice, man," Brooks said of his performance. "I feel like it's the first game, you can't just dwell on this the rest of the season. I feel like I have to to be a lot better."
Brooks first made his presence known on center stage in front of the raucous Terrier crowd by diving for a loose ball barely 30 seconds into the new season.
There he was again with 17:31 remaining in the first half, throwing down a dunk with such force it brought back memories of another lean, 6-foot-9 power forward.
In fact, Johnson, who was watching the game, tweeted his support for a player who was playing like he used to in a North Carolina uniform. Even he must have noticed the similarities.
Just less than three minutes later, Brooks scored again, this time on a layup to stymie a 6-0 Wofford run and hush the Terrier crowd.
It was clear the Terriers noticed Brooks' play. On three separate occasions at the beginning of the second half, a Wofford defender picked off a pass intended for Brooks. But even with the defensive strategy in mind to limit the big man's touches, Brooks continued to make his presence felt with seven points after intermission.
Brooks wasn't the only Tar Heel leaving his mark. Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson, who struggled to the tune of a 1-5 shooting performance in last year's loss to Wofford, led all UNC players with five made 3-pointers.
But it was Brooks who stole the show. Channeling his inner Brice Johnson once again, Brooks threw down an emphatic dunk on a pass from Johnson with 6:49 left in the second half to put his team up by double-digits for the first time since the opening minutes of the second half. After scoring, he yelled at the disheartened crowd, while managing to talk trash to a Wofford player on his way back down the court.
Brooks put an exclamation point on the night just two minutes later, soaring high in the air to drop in a layup, while drawing the foul to make it a 64-57 lead before converting the free throw. As he returned to the floor, he flexed his muscles and let out a roar, signaling his arrival as the big man the Tar Heels sorely missed last season.
"We give Garrison that a lot, him looking like Brice and acting like Brice," senior guard Kenny Williams said with a laugh. "Man, I was proud of Garrison. He's probably the one that I've been on the most this preseason just because I kind of took him under my wing a little bit and just demanded more from him and he showed that tonight. I'm so proud of him the way he played."
Perhaps Kenny Williams lit a fire under Brooks with his demanding in preseason the same way Roy Williams lit a fire under Brice Johnson.
If that was the case, it certainly worked because it was Brooks who provided the energy and scoring in the first half to keep his team ahead. It was Brooks who ended the game with career bests in points (20), minutes played (25) and field goals made (9).
It was Brooks who was a key reason for the Tar Heels taming the Terriers to start the new season.
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