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'I'm not gonna shy away from anything': Harrison Ingram uses chippy attitude to lead UNC to win over N.C. State

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UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) celebrates during the men’s basketball game versus N.C. State in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024. UNC won 79-70.

In the player’s lounge after UNC's 79-70 win over N.C. State on Saturday, Harrison Ingram walked sans shoes — it’s his superstition — through the sea of media around Elliot Cadeau.

He clapped his hands together and yelled, “YEAH, E!” 

“That’s just Harrison, he just does that,” Cadeau said.

UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) and graduate guard Cormac Ryan (3) lift first-year guard Elliot Cadeau (2) from the ground following a foul called on a layup in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024, during the men’s basketball game against N.C. State. UNC won 79-70.

Harrison Ingram is an instigator. 

“That's just who he is,” RJ Davis confirmed.

The Tar Heels' victory over N.C. State was a quintessential Ingram game. The first 10 minutes of the second half was his flavor of basketball: chippy, in your face and loud. As a result, the junior was the leading scorer for the Tar Heels — for the first time since playing Northern Iowa at the Battle 4 Atlantis — with a season-high 22 points. 

He was revved from his first shot, a corner three in front of the N.C. State bench. Harrison Ingram turned around and let them know about it, because of course he did. 

“Harrison was Harrison today,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. 

His mother Vera Ingram knew from the tip he was locked in. 

“I can always tell if he's ready to go,” Vera Ingram said. “He was hyped up and energetic and his happy-go-lucky self. So I knew from shot one that he was going.” 

And Harrison Ingram knew he was locked in when he recorded seven points in the first four minutes, capping it off with a ferocious slam over two Wolfpack players.

UNC junior forward Harrison Ingram (55) dunking the ball in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in the men’s basketball game against N.C. State.

But despite his performance, the Tar Heels lagged through the first half, allowing the Wolfpack to shoot 57 percent from the field and 63 percent from three, all while the junior dropped 13 points. 

UNC entered the locker room after allowing a season-high first-half points from its opponent. It was also the second-largest halftime deficit of the season.

According to Cadeau, Hubert Davis emphasized the need for more lockdown defense at halftime. The head coach thought N.C. State was just playing harder, wanting it more. 

And, in the eyes of Hubert Davis, Harrison Ingram had “lifted” the entire team in the first half, keeping the Tar Heels in it though his own play.

Of course he did. After all, he’s an instigator. 

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“You never have to tell Harrison, ‘Let's play hard’,” Hubert Davis said. “He just instinctively — in everything, practice, shoot around, obviously a game — just brings tremendous energy for us, and it fueled us today.”

Harrison Ingram, while unsure if he's really the instigator his teammates make him out to be, concedes that he does get up in people’s faces, playing his brand of brazen and fiery basketball. 

And, according to the head coach, it wasn’t just his 22 points that impacted the game — it was his passion.

"I'm not gonna shy away from anything,” Harrison Ingram said. “If someone talks to me, I'm gonna talk back. If someone pushes me, I’m going to push back. I’m one of those guys.”

UNC and N.C. State men’s basketball players fighting during the men’s basketball game versus N.C. State in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024. UNC won 79-70.

In a chippy game — there were 34 total fouls in the contest — Ingram is the man you want on your team. At least that’s what RJ Davis thinks.

The in-your-face style of play is not just due to the in-state rivalry. Harrison Ingram doesn't get the N.C. State hatred. 

“N.C. State, there's hatred," he said. "They hate us for some reason. I still don't understand the rivalry but everyone tells me that they hate us and I saw that in the court.” 

Hatred there may not be, but Harrison Ingram will always establish his presence.

“He always talks a little bit of trash, even to me.” RJ Davis said with a laugh. “So, it's not new to me.”

@gracegnugent

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