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'Relentless on the glass': Ingram and Bacot combine for 22 rebounds against Miami

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UNC graduate forward/center Armando Bacot (5) defends the basket in the Dean E. Smith Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 against UMiami.

RJ Davis rarely misses free throws. Any misfire comes as a “surprise” to teammate Harrison Ingram.

And on Monday night, Davis was on fire. After dropping a career-high 42 points, the all-time UNC leader in career free throw percentage stepped up to the line with 24 seconds on the clock and a 2-point lead over Miami.

When he shoots the ball, I feel like everybody assumes it’s going in," Ingram said, "but we’re taught to crash and so I crashed the boards." 

Davis sank the first shot. No surprise. And then on the second — clang.

Luckily for the Tar Heels, the ACC’s top rebounder in conference play was there. Jumping over not one, not two, but three (yes, three) Hurricanes, Ingram extended his right arm and tipped the ball out. He pumped his fist in celebration. Soon, Davis reclaimed the ball to kickstart UNC’s offense again and North Carolina held on to claim a 75-71 win over Miami.

While Davis certainly carried the weight of the Tar Heels’ scoring — 56 percent of its offense, to be exact — Ingram and graduate forward Armando Bacot combined for 22 rebounds.

They’ve just been relentless on the glass,” graduate forward Jae’Lyn Withers said. “There’s a couple instances where they’re fighting for the rebound and they both have their hands on it and one of them is like ‘I don’t want to let go,’ and the other is doing the same thing. It’s pretty tough keeping both of them off the glass for other teams.”

North Carolina, currently sitting alone atop the ACC, leads the conference in rebounding thanks to Ingram and Bacot. 

The power duo rank top-two in league action, with Bacot — UNC’s all-time leading rebounder — taking the passenger’s seat. They are the first pair of Tar Heels to average nine or more rebounds since John Henson and Tyler Zeller in the 2011-12 season.

It wasn’t always that way. Or rather, Ingram wasn’t always that dominant on the boards.

Rewind to December, when UNC was held to 33 rebounds — a season-low at the time – by UConn

At halftime, Hubert Davis implored all his players not named Armando Bacot to crash the boards.

He was saying Armando was the only one that had a couple of offensive rebounds,” RJ Davis said on Dec. 5. “So that was a key emphasis of three, four and five getting to the glass, and doing that consecutively and consistently.”

Now, Ingram sees that game as a turning point. Opponents were crashing the paint with full-force against a UNC team with two 6-foot guards in its starting lineup, making it harder to box out. 

Ingram knew he had to start rebounding.

“We were losing games because of our size and [because] we weren’t able to rebound,” Ingram said, later adding, “I just got to the point where I was like, ‘Screw all that.’ Every rebound, I’m just going to go grab it.”

Before UConn, Ingram averaged seven rebounds per game. And in the games since? Nearly 10.5.

That’s not to say that Ingram hasn’t had his challenges, though. On the road against Clemson in January, the junior wing struggled against Tiger forward Ian Schieffelin, only pulling down five boards.

At one point, Schieffelin kept four consecutive Clemson misses alive, which Ingram took full responsibility for. 

“It was on me,” Ingram said, adding with a laugh, “and I got subbed out for it.”

Still, despite the lows, Ingram’s shown a consistent want-to on the glass — displaying the energy, effort and toughness head coach Hubert Davis preaches.

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Ingram’s mother, Vera, said rebounding hasn’t always been a strength of her son’s. He’s had to work on it. But through improved concentration, and thanks to intense summer conditioning (Ingram said he lost about 20 pounds), his impact on the glass is at an all-time high.

“He’s definitely been more aggressive about it here at UNC for sure,” Vera said

And on Monday, in a messy game that saw the Hurricanes make an 11-0 run toward the end of regulation, the Tar Heels needed that extra aggression. 

It’s tough, usually those games, when a team goes on a run like that, often they come back and they win,” Ingram said. “I think it just shows us that we’re tough. We had two guys miss back-to-back free throws and we get two offensive rebounds. For us, it’s just kind of what coach always says, ‘It’s whatever it takes.’ We figured out how a way get the win even though it was an ugly win.”

@shelbymswanson

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com 


Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.