'I'm here': Brandon Robinson extends UNC's ACC Tournament stay with Virginia Tech win
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Brandon Robinson had something to say Tuesday night.
His message came, specifically, during North Carolina’s first-round ACC Tournament matchup against Virginia Tech; more specifically, it came during the second half of the Tar Heels’ 78-56 win, after the senior crossed over his defender and nailed a stepback three to put the UNC lead at 20.
“I’m here,” Robinson announced, high-fiving teammates Garrison Brooks and Cole Anthony — as animated as he’s gotten all season.
Here, as in in the zone; or here, as in Greensboro; or maybe here, as in this moment, right now, ready to help the Tar Heels in a quest for an automatic NCAA Tournament that could be only just beginning.
His 17 points ensured that for at least one more game, the quest will continue.
“This could’ve been my last time putting on this jersey,” Robinson said. “I don’t want to go out with any regrets.”
Robinson finished the day with a five of six mark from 3-point range. The points came early, as he scored eight of UNC’s first twelve, and late, as he sank three triples in a two-minute span to effectively end the game in the second half.
Just as notable, though, was Robinson’s demeanor. His passionate outbursts might’ve gone unnoticed if they came from, say, Brooks or Anthony. But not for him. The high-fives, the yelling, the geographical pronouncement — it was all very anti-B-Rob.
“I’m just fired up,” he admitted.
“It’s his senior year,” Bacot said. “He’s gonna leave it out on the floor every game.”
The first time out against the Hokies, North Carolina was without both Robinson and Anthony and fell on the road in double overtime. The Tar Heels missed potential game-winners at the end of regulation and the first extra period, and VT’s Tyrece Radford tossed in a layup with 0.4 seconds to go to end it.
The shot was a fitting cap on a five-game losing streak for UNC, one that ensured that an at-large NCAA bid wasn't in the cards.
“Losing in the fashion we did, it hurts us,” Robinson said. “We wanted to come out here and prove a point.”
The reason the senior had to sit out that game? Injuries sustained from a car crash, in which a drunk driver hit him driving home from a January loss to Clemson. Add that to the list of bumps and bruises that’s kept him out of 11 total games this year, a big reason why North Carolina is the bottom seed of the conference postseason.
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As Robinson said, though, he’s here. Now. And he has every intention of getting comfortable in Greensboro.
“Hotel’s good, too,” he said. “I’m ready.”
The Tar Heels will need a lot more Robinson against sixth-seeded Syracuse Wednesday at approximately 9:30 p.m. North Carolina shot 11-26 from deep in a Feb. 29 win over the Orange; Robinson leads the Tar Heels in 3-point shooting at 37.6 percent.
If he has his way — and if the novel coronavirus doesn’t lead to a tournament cancellation, as it very well might — Robinson will have another chance to tell everyone exactly where he’s at. In a few days’ time, he hopes it’ll be on a conference championship podium.
“I don’t want to take this jersey off,” he said. “I’m gonna do whatever it takes to keep putting it on.”