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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Dunk of the Year nominee: UNC’s Dexter Strickland, P.J. Hairston

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

Myck Kabongo fought through some persistent lower back pain to play 15 minutes for Texas on Wednesday night in an 82-63 loss at North Carolina.

Afterwards, though, it was a different type of pain that Kabongo and fellow Longorn freshman guard Julien Lewis shared.

Both were victimized by poster-worthy transition dunks as the Tar Heels raced out to an early lead, then held Texas at arm's length the rest of the night.

Kabongo was thrown on by Dexter Strickland, while Lewis got put on the deck by P.J. Hairston. Both were equally impressive, molding into a combined nominee for the Dunk of the Year.

The reason for the shared nomination? Aside from the fact that they came in the same game — heck, the same half — it's simply too tough to decide whose throw-down was better.

Poor Kabongo was in a no-win situation when it came to Strickland's dunk, as he was stuck as the lone defender in a dangerous 2-on-1 situation. On the one side, the ball was being brought up by 6-foot-8 Harrison Barnes, who normally finishes in similar situations. On the left was Strickland, who has a history of slamming on opponents' heads without giving it a second thought. By the time Barnes released the ball, Strickland had a full head of steam.

As for Lewis, in hindsight, he probably should have just let Hairston have the uncontested flush, as he was unable to get across the paint in time to even make it outside of the restricted area. He essentially sacrificed himself to be the added spice in the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Hairston's highlight.

With how easy both Tar Heels made the dunks look — and the fact that UNC typically gets several transition opportunities per game due to its style of play — don't be surprised if this is not the last nomination for this season's Dunk of the Year from either one.

Previous Dunk of the Year nominees:

UConn guard Jeremy Lamb

San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin

VMI forward Stan Okoye

Washington forward Terrence Ross

Marquette guard Vander Blue

Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene

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