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'The Swiss army knife': Harrison Ingram displays versatility and grit in win over N.C. State

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) looks at the basket at the Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023 game in PNC Arena against N.C. State University. UNC won 67-54.

RALEIGH — With just over 16 minutes remaining on the clock, Harrison Ingram dove for a loose ball, catapulting over the stats table and toppling into the occupied seats on the other side. 

Drinks went flying, papers were scattered and players rushed over to check on the junior guard, but Ingram just bounced right back up, ready to keep hustling for the rest of the game. 

It was that hustle that carried the No. 7 North Carolina men's basketball team to a 67-54 victory over N.C. State at PNC Arena on Wednesday night. Throughout the contest, Ingram was all over the floor, providing the energy and momentum the Tar Heels needed to succeed and ending the night with a career-high 19 rebounds — the most ever by a Tar Heel across 245 games against the Wolfpack. The junior also added nine points, one assist and one steal. 

For Ingram, his performance all comes down to his mindset. 

"I feel like no matter how you're playing, no matter how you're shooting the ball, no matter how the game’s going, I think you should play hard," Ingram said. "I feel like I’m the Swiss army knife type of player."

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) shoots a free-throw at the Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023 game in PNC Arena against N.C. State University. UNC won 67-54.

Simply put, Ingram will fill in where his teammates are lacking. Take Wednesday as evidence: In a night where ACC leading rebounder Armando Bacot was only able to notch five rebounds, Ingram stepped up to make up the difference. 

"Having a guy that plays so hard and plays games like that is huge," Bacot said. "I mean, his play and how hard he played — it got us through the game.”

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) sets a pick at the Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023 game in PNC Arena against N.C. State University. UNC won 67-54.

The performance didn't come out of nowhere, though. Ingram has been nursing a wrist injury over the past three games, which has caused him some trouble shooting the ball accurately. While Ingram has shot a combined 27 percent across that stretch, his offensive struggles have only motivated him to make up for it with other aspects of his game.

Head coach Hubert Davis has repeatedly emphasized winning the "battle in the trenches," and it appears Ingram has taken the advice to heart. 

"Harrison, I don't know what else to say about him," Davis said. "He's a complete player in terms of giving you everything that you want.”

So, when Ingram saw the ball flying out of bounds with the chance to save it and score second-chance points, he took it. In his head, there really was no other choice. 

"I just be losing my mind in the game, losing myself in the game, playing hard," Ingram said. "I saw the ball so I dove for it and I hit an old man — hopefully he’s okay, prayers up — and you know I just play as hard as I can every single game.”

The "old man" Ingram hit? He's big-time N.C. State donor and former politician Wendell Murphy, who the Wolfpack's football training facility is named after.

A few minutes after Ingram got back on the court, he ran over to the table once more to check on Murphy, who had to get his hand taped up by the on-site doctor after getting hit by the junior guard. 

John Maddrey, the basketball statistician who was sitting beside Murphy, witnessed the whole thing. 

"He came over to check on Mr. Murphy and Mr. Murphy said, ‘I’m fine, you just keep playing hard,'" Maddrey said.

A fervent N.C. State fan telling the UNC player to keep doing what he was doing. What better endorsement could Ingram have gotten? 

"Just keep playing hard."

He did. 

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@peacegwen

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com


Gwen Peace

Gwen Peace is the 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a senior writer. Gwen is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and peace, war and defense.