The bench play for the North Carolina men’s basketball team has been inconsistent all year long. A 25-point explosion from the UNC reserves in a win over then-No. 4 Gonzaga was followed by just 13 points in a loss to then-No. 19 Kentucky.
At times, the reserves have been fully locked in, led by first-year forward Nassir Little and junior guard Seventh Woods. That was the case on Tuesday night, when No. 13 UNC needed every bit of help it could get from its non-starters in a 75-69 win over Notre Dame at the Smith Center.
It was the reserves, not the starters, who won the game for North Carolina on Tuesday. It was Little, Woods and junior guard Brandon Robinson who provided the spark to lead their team past the Fighting Irish in a game that was crucial to stay in the thick of the ACC regular season title race.
“I don’t think I’ve been completely myself, but I think next half of the season, for the team to be as good as we want to be, I gotta be me,” Little said in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel on Dec. 14.
His words rang true. Coming into the game against Notre Dame, Little had scored just 14 points in three ACC contests, while shooting 5 of 17 from the field. In the first half against the Fighting Irish, Little’s scoring woes continued as he failed to record a point in seven minutes.