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Harrison Ingram's infectious energy carries UNC men's basketball to 93-84 win over Duke

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) gives teammate UNC senior guard RJ Davis (4) a high five during the Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 men’s basketball game against Duke in the Dean Smith Center. UNC won with a score of 84-93.

Five hours before every game, Harrison Ingram's father Tyrous sends him a text: "Let's rock."

He responds with a "Let's rock" of his own, followed by two red exclamation point emojis.

That's their ritual. Harrison said they started it up at the beginning of the season when he came to UNC, as a way of getting his mind off the game and onto his family. According to him, it's been working "100 percent."

It certainly seems that way.

In No. 3 North Carolina's 93-84 win over No. 7 Duke on Saturday night, the junior wing recorded a season-high 21 points, along with a game-high 13 rebounds and four steals. The performance marked his seventh double-double of the season, each one accompanying a UNC win.

“This was the most fun game I’ve ever played in my life," Ingram said. "The most lit game, the most happy [and the most] intense.”

Before tipoff, both of his parents and his sister Lauren sat in row C of section 109, nervous. But Harrison wasn't worried.

He had a typical morning, waking up at 11:30 a.m., making his bed, blasting "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira and eating breakfast before getting in his car to head to the Dean E. Smith Center. 

Lauren, who plays on the Duke volleyball team, had called him to check in on how he was feeling. 

"I asked him earlier if he was nervous and he said, ‘Not at all,’" she told The Daily Tar Heel, "So, I felt like that was a good sign. I knew he was going to show up and perform."

He did just that. Ingram was all over the floor, forcing turnovers, scoring points, hyping up his teammates and grabbing crucial rebounds to give the Tar Heels the upper hand. He logged 38 minutes of play, never once slowing down — something he credits to the intense cardio training he did over the summer, which got him in "the best shape of his life."

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) during the men’s basketball game against Duke at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. UNC beat Duke 93-84.

“He’s always breeding energy and effort [and] enthusiasm," head coach Hubert Davis said. "[There's] a toughness about it."

This was evident throughout the game. Ingram was diving across the court to catch loose balls, clapping in the face of his opponents and partaking in the "too small" celebration with Armando Bacot. At one point, he even had to be separated from the Blue Devils after a foul call he disagreed with.

20240203 - UNC MEN’S BASKETBALL VS. DUKE
UNC first-year guard Elliot Cadeau (2), graduate guard Cormac Ryan (3), graduate forward Armando Bacot (5) and junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) hold their palms down 'in a "too small" signal, directed toward Duke sophomore center Kyle Filipowski (30), during the men’s basketball game against Duke at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. UNC beat Duke 93-84.

Ingram tied his career high with four steals and drained five 3-pointersalso a career high — to help him notch his 21 points.

Simply put, he was charged up. 

“I told Harry, for us to win this game, we need him to bring that energy and knock down those shots and really get the crowd into it," Bacot said. "I think that’s his role.”

For Ingram, it all comes down to love. 

Since coming to UNC, his mom Vera said there has been a big difference in the way he has been playing and the level of excitement he has for each and every game.

"He loves his teammates," Vera told The DTH. "They get along very well. He talks about them all the time."

20240203 - UNC MEN’S BASKETBALL VS. DUKE
UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) hugs senior guard RJ Davis (4) after the men’s basketball team's victory against Duke at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. UNC beat Duke 93-84.

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He also loves his family — all 50-plus members who showed up to the game, especially his Blue Devil sister who he has labeled one of his best friends.

But it was only after his 20th point that Ingram allowed himself to look at his family, pointing at Lauren to say "I told you so," and at Vera to let her know he was happy with how he was playing.

And after the final buzzer had sounded, Harrison was eager to escape the postgame press conferences and rush Franklin Street alongside his loved ones. 

He still didn't know quite what he was going to say to them when he saw them, though. 

"I’m going to see how they react first," he said with a grin.

His mom, on the other hand, knew exactly what she was going to say to her son: "I love him and I’m so happy for him because I know how hard he’s worked."

@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.