In a slow-paced, low-scoring game, UNC relied on the energy of first-year big Day’Ron Sharpe to get the 73-67 victory.
Entering Saturday’s game against North Carolina Central University, UNC averaged five blocks per game as a team, with Sharpe coming in with at a team-high 1.4 per contest. In the Tar Heels' win over the Eagles, North Carolina finished with six blocks, two of which came from Sharpe himself.
Though UNC’s blocked shot average doesn't rank particularly high among other teams in the nation, Sharpe has been a reliable presence on the defensive end thus far with his playmaking ability and effort.
“I just try to not let guys score,” he said. “So blocking shots is one of those things you gotta do because if you don’t block the shot, then they’re going to score the ball. And if they score the ball, they stay in the game. So you just gotta stop them from scoring.”
Along with blocking shots, Sharpe contributed to the game in a multitude of ways by adding 12 points, six rebounds and two assists to his totals, as well.
What made his scoring contribution important was not the amount of points he scored, but the timeliness of these points. For the majority of this early portion of the season, Sharpe has been an efficient jolt of energy off the bench for North Carolina. This win wasn't much of an exception to that rule.
After not scoring in the first half, Sharpe was able to get more looks in the second. UNC began to find consistency with a high-low offense and get looks for Sharpe close to the rim. He made shots during a key run by the Tar Heels that extended the second-half lead to double digits.
Once the players around him made more jump shots, Sharpe capitalized with some scoring of his own.
“Second half, we started hitting some shots,” Sharpe said. “So it started spreading the floor out and we could feed the ball in the paint.”
Senior guard Andrew Platek, who made the only two 3-pointers of the game for UNC, noticed the trend as well and commended both Sharpe and sophomore center Armando Bacot for establishing a presence inside that UNC needed to get the win.
“We weren’t hitting outside shots,” Platek said. “We weren’t getting the ball inside to our bigs. Armando and Day’Ron really bailed us out today.”
Excelling in the game along with Sharpe was Bacot, who had game highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds along with a blocked shot of his own. While Sharpe provided an important spark off the bench, Bacot was the statistical leader for North Carolina.
Bacot said he simply played his role and did what was asked of him from the coaching staff.
“Go out there and be a leader,” Bacot said. “Finish around the rim, get offensive boards and block shots.”
And that's the same advice and guidance Sharpe has learned from in Chapel Hill this year. Though his numbers weren’t flashy, he continued to do what he has done all season: impact the game in more ways than one. He is in the top five in all five of the major statistical categories through the first six games of UNC’s season, and the team will certainly look to him to continue bringing his energy to every game.
“I just try to be that guy that does the small things, little things that make the team win,” Sharpe said. “Somebody has to do the small things for the team to win.”
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