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Despite loss, Garner’s Jerome Robinson relishes the chance to play UNC

North Carolina’s Kenny Williams (24) and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson (1) hit the court after a loose ball during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina’s Kenny Williams (24) and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson (1) hit the court after a loose ball during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Jerome Robinson split North Carolina’s defense, rose up and threw down a beautiful dunk in the second half of Tuesday’s game.

This is how Robinson had always imagined his first ACC game at the Smith Center. It was the rest of the 96-66 loss to the Tar Heels that didn’t jibe with what the Boston College junior pictured for his first Triangle homecoming of the season.

The Eagles (11-6, 2-3 ACC) had already chalked up ACC wins over Duke and Wake Forest this season. Robinson, who grew up a Carolina fan in Garner, had hoped the Eagles would notch another win over another North Carolina team.

Both Robinson, who went to Broughton, and sophomore guard Ky Bowman, who is from Havelock, look forward to the ACC games against teams from their home state. In part, because none of the in-state schools had recruited them, or at least in Bowman’s case, recruited them to play basketball.

“We wish we got this one,” Robinson said. “We want to get all of the (North Carolina) schools.”

Robinson, who finished with 15 points and three assists, had at least hoped for a better showing. The Eagles got waxed on the glass, 58 to 23, and couldn’t get anything going in transition.

“We couldn’t get any easy baskets,” Robinson said.

Robinson did get that one dunk, with 6:37 left in the game, but it only made the score 84-64. Robinson finished 6 of 13 from the floor and 3 of 6 from the 3-point line.

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He had entered the game averaging 26.5 points in the first four ACC games. He had 24 in the Eagles’ 89-84 home win over then-No. 1 Duke on Dec. 9. The wiry 6-5, 191-pound guard scored 25 in a 77-71 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.

With Bowman (15.8 points per game) and 3-point specialist Jordan Chatman (13.5 ppg), the Eagles have been playing their best basketball under fourth-year coach Jim Christian.

BC had been just 2-34 in ACC play in Robinson’s first two seasons. The 2-2 ACC start, before Tuesday’s loss, also came without injured forward Deontae Hawkins, who had been the team’s best big man.

“We have just been playing smart and aggressive,” Robinson said. “This is a tough loss, but we’ll bounce back.”

And Robinson was appreciative of finally getting a chance to play a college game at the Smith Center. He was a sophomore in high school in 2013 when Broughton lost the state title game there.

The Eagles played in Chapel Hill his freshman season, but he was sidelined with a wrist injury.

“This (place) is awesome,” Robinson said. “The atmosphere is crazy. There’s a reason they get all the attention that they do.”

Robinson will not get another shot at UNC in the regular season, but the Eagles do have a return trip to the Triangle, at N.C. State, next month.

“It’s always good to come back home and get a chance to play here,” Robinson said.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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