Return of The Cole Anthony Show isn't enough for UNC against Boston College
After a seven-week hiatus, The Cole Anthony Show returned for North Carolina men’s basketball on Saturday against Boston College. But in this episode, part and parcel with UNC’s season so far, there would be no happy ending in a 71-70 loss that sent the Tar Heels (10-11, 3-7 ACC) back below the .500 mark.
For much of the night, North Carolina seemed out of sync given the return of Anthony, who missed UNC’s last 11 games due to meniscus surgery. And despite some late drama, portions of the game actually looked more like your favorite sitcom.
There was an errant second-half pass from guard Andrew Platek that went right to a Boston College player at midcourt, leading to an easy Eagle dunk.
There was another bad turnover — a “bonehead” play, Anthony conceded — on a routine inbounds pass with less than three minutes left, leading to a BC basket.
Most tellingly, there was the fact that the Tar Heels missed nine of their first 10 shots to open the second half, made just four 3-pointers on the night and appeared, as Platek said, "in slow motion," all while the Eagles sank seven of 18 shots from deep and didn't let the Tar Heel veterans get comfortable offensively.
Though Anthony got his numbers, slapping up a game-high 26 points, senior Brandon Robinson and junior Garrison Brooks shot a combined 10 of 31 and never found the groove they had discovered in the star guard’s absence.
“The adjustment comes in when we get Cole back in the game, and we’re watching Cole,” Platek said. “We can’t do that.”
Most of the first-year's points came in the least telegenic manner imaginable: he went 14 of 14 at the line, while adding five rebounds and doing just enough to give UNC a shot to win it with seconds left.
It all made for a climactic ending to a clunker of a game — except the final play, a high ball screen that went nowhere and led to a heavily contested Anthony triple at the buzzer, which could’ve been set to the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” theme song. The airball from the right wing floated harmlessly through the Chapel Hill night before ending up out of bounds, ending UNC’s night in the most deflating of ways.
“A great player like that, the ball leaves his hand with three seconds to go, your life stops for a minute right there,” BC head coach Jim Christian said. “Fortunately for us, it didn’t go in.”
UNC's last gasp was directly preceded by a questionable foul call that gave the Eagles free throws and a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Did it factor into UNC’s seeming confusion on the final play?
“I think we were so caught up in what happened the play before,” Platek said of Anthony's shot. “We didn’t refocus and get our efforts into the next play, and we took a bad shot, and we never really got a chance to change the outcome.”
It doesn’t help matters, either, that Robinson went down for the umpteenth time this season on that dubious foul call, though X-rays for a sprained right ankle came back negative. Add it to the “M*A*S*H*”-esque list of injuries North Carolina has had to soldier through in 2019-20.
And while Anthony said that “there’s a lot of room for improvement” for both himself and his team, a glance at the clock will tell you that the credits are fast approaching for North Carolina. The Tar Heels shot just 36.1 percent from the field against the Eagles — at this point, pretty much the norm for this team, as Williams noted — and there’s no clear solution to that problem, highly-touted point guard prospect or no. Meanwhile, the loss puts another major dent in UNC's NCAA Tournament hopes, meaning some fans at home will likely be watching Netflix instead of Monday night's tilt with Florida State.
The Cole Anthony Show is back. But late-game dramatics aside, there’s no guarantee that it’ll make for good television going forward.
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