As his teammates will tell you, it was only a matter of time before everything began to click for first-year guard Kerwin Walton.
His 13 points off the bench on a perfect 3-3 outing from 3-point range to go with 4-4 at the free throw line were the spark that motivated UNC's offense to overtake a Kentucky team struggling with foul trouble in North Carolina's 75-63 win on Saturday.
“I mean, we’ve been waiting for that out of Kerwin," sophomore big Armando Bacot said. "We knew it was going to come. He can really shoot the ball."
But even in the first half of North Carolina's gritty CBS Sports Classic win, Walton kept his teammates like Bacot waiting. There wasn't a barrage of flashing lights pointing to this being Walton's breakout performance.
Sure, the first-year nailed the Tar Heels' first 3-pointer of the game to cut Kentucky's lead to 19-15 with 11:43 remaining in the first half. But, like most first-year players not on the level of a Zion Williamson or Kevin Durant, he wasn't immune to some of the common struggles guys can have when they make the jump from high school standout to collegiate role player.
He turned the ball over on a bad entry pass into the post, missed an opportunity to box out for a rebound and picked up a cheap shooting foul during a two-minute stretch near the end of the first frame.
It was the little mistakes like that that forced head coach Roy Williams to turn to more experienced defenders in the second half, limiting Walton to 15 minutes off the bench for the afternoon.
But Walton made the most of those second-half minutes.
It started with a dish to Bacot to chip away at the Wildcats' lead and bring it to 42-44 early in the final half.