PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Right before the start of the second half of UNC’s 73-66 Sweet 16 win against UCLA, graduate forward Brady Manek came out of the tunnel looking to build on his game-best first half.
The leading scorer at the time with 10 points, Manek walked around the court while his teammates took jumpers to get loose. He grazed his headband, reaching it to the back of his head and adjusting it at the front to hold back his red hair.
He made his way to the bench and took the first seat at the end of the bench near the scorer's table, sitting alone and looking up. The big screen in the middle of the Wells Fargo Center played his best plays from the first 20 minutes, highlighted by a thunderous one-handed put-back dunk that awed the crowd. It even got Manek himself jumping up and down in celebration.
The dunk was emblematic of his first half, as it was his first taste of action since his ejection midway through the second half against Baylor in the Tar Heels' Round of 32 matchup.
And while those scoring opportunities escaped him in the second half, his impact on the game was still felt.
Manek missed his first five shots of the period, and it visibly aggravated him. At one point, he even took his headband back off in response to that anger.
Head coach Hubert Davis pulled Manek — who played the entirety of the game to that point — out of the game at the 8:38 mark.
“He got a little frustrated in the second half because he missed a couple shots that he felt like he normally makes,” Davis said. “So we took him out and just gave him a little breather and let him collect his thoughts.”
To that point, Manek managed to make plays without even scoring. He remained active on the boards, earned a steal after deflecting a pass from UCLA's Tyger Campbell and made smart passes on the perimeter as well as inside to junior forward Armando Bacot.