Could Duke be the opponent Armando Bacot needs for a breakout game?

Last year, Armando Bacot was undoubtedly the best player on UNC.

He was a walking double-double, rebounding machine and – despite double-teams every game – able to score at east near the rim.

That’s why this year, compared to his historical standards, Bacot is struggling.

The Tar Heels’ starting center has gone three straight games without scoring – or rebounding – in double-digits. He’s still backing guys down in the paint, but isn’t finishing. Bacot is shooting free throws at a more productive clip, making nearly 78% from the line this year compared to 67% a season ago, but isn’t playing as aggressively.

Good news for Mondo – Duke comes to town on Saturday, Feb. 3.

This matchup works pretty well in Bacot’s favor, as he’s averaging 15.1 points per game on 53.3% shooting, 9.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in nine matchups against the Blue Devils.

With Saturday also being Bacot’s last home game against Duke, let’s hear what he had to say.

“I’ve been on the same team with Jeremy (Roach) since he was in the sixth grade and I was in the seventh grade,” Bacot told InsideCarolina. “We played AAU all the way up. Jeremy’s a great player and I love playing against him, he always has a great game against us so I need him to play bad. Me, RJ and Jeremy, we’ve all got the same manager, so we do a lot of things together. We talk all the time, but we haven’t really talked this month. We all know what’s at stake coming up and we definitely want to take it to them.”

Saturday isn’t just any UNC-Duke game, but also a battle between old friends.

Bacot started his high school career in Virginia – at Trinity Episcopal – before transferring to IMG Academy. Roach played high school basketball in Virginia – for Paul VI Catholic – all four years.

Going back to the numbers, producing less on the stat sheet isn’t a product of poor play from Bacot, but instead due to the availability of more scoring options.

Wheres RJ Davis was the only other consistent scorer on North Carolina last year (Caleb Love was inconsistent), the Tar Heels also have Cormac Ryan, Harrison Ingram, Jae’Lyn Withers, Elliot Cadeau and much-improved sophomores in Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington.

What better time to have a rebound game than against your biggest rival?

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire