After watching Harrison Barnes light up Clemson for 40 points Saturday in North Carolina’s improbable 92-87 ACC semifinal overtime win, I get the feeling we all just saw the best game Barnes will ever play in a Tar Heel uniform.
Maybe I’m wrong and Barnes, a precocious freshman, won’t come out early for the NBA draft. Maybe the impending possible lockout will keep him in school, or maybe he just likes school and wants to stay like Tyler Hansbrough (who also once hit 40 points as a freshman) did for four seasons.
But when you can do something like that, it’s hard not to hear the siren song of the NBA.
A couple of notes about Barnes’ 40 points, which matched his uniform number:
-- They were the most ever in 115 previous ACC tournament semifinals.
-- They were the most points scored by a UNC player in the ACC tournament in 40 years (Lennie Rosenbluth still has the school record with 45 in a 1957 quarterfinal).
For the second straight game, UNC lived very dangerously. The Tar Heels fell behind 14-3 early and were down 73-66 with 2:30 left (and Clemson had the ball). But the Tar Heels scored the final seven points of regulation, then never trailed in overtime.
Barnes had 14 of the Tar Heels’ 19 points in that overtime period, assuring the win. It was amazingly good. Said Barnes of the NBA after the game: “When the season is over, I’ll think about it.”
Enjoy No.40 while you can, Tar Heel fans. I don’t think he’s going to be around very long.