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Why North Carolina freshman Nassir Little felt his team was slighted after the Duke win

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Roy Williams addresses the media following the Tar Heels' win over the Blue Devils
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Roy Williams addresses the media following the Tar Heels' win over the Blue Devils

The day after No. 8 North Carolina beat No. 1 Duke on the road, Nassir Little looked at ESPN and didn’t like what he saw.

Everyone was talking about Duke’s star freshman Zion Williamson, his Nike shoe blowout and his knee injury, and not how the Tar Heels had dismantled the Blue Devils on the road.

North Carolina’s Nassir Little (5) hangs on the rim after drawing a foul on a dunk attempt during the second half against Florida State on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Little lead North Carolina with 18 points in their 77-59 victory. Robert Willett

Frustrated with the portrayal of the game, Little posted on Snapchat later that fans should not believe the media.

“Me and Zion are friends, but I felt some kind of way,” Little told The News & Observer in what was initially a conversation that was not intended to be published. Little later agreed to have his comments published. “We win a game against the No. 1 team by 16 — I hate to see Zion go down — but that’s not the story now. The story is Zion gets hurt. Should he leave college? It’s like we get no credit.”

UNC overwhelmed Duke Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, winning 88-72. The game was never close and UNC led for the entire way. Williamson went down with a knee injury in the first 36 seconds of the game and did not return.

And the Tar Heels took advantage of the top ranked Blue Devils in what was a tough road environment.

“ESPN, they select their guys, who they want to be the guy, and they just kind of ride with it or whatever,” Little said Saturday. “I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t think sports should be like that.”

After beating Duke Wednesday and Florida State at home on Saturday, UNC is 7-5 in Quadrant 1 games. Ever since its 21-point loss to Louisville at home on Jan. 12, the Tar Heels have been on a roll. They have won 10 of their last 11 games, including a payback win over then-No. 15 Louisville on the road, a 21-point win over then-No. 10 Virginia Tech, the 16-point win over No. 1 Duke, and now a 18-point win over No. 16 Florida State.

The Tar Heels appear to be one of the hottest teams in college basketball. But Little, who had 18 points and 8 rebounds against Florida State, feels the conversation from national media outlets has not centered on them as much as it should.

When asked if he felt the Tar Heels were flying under the radar, Little said: “A little bit, but the way I live is like, ‘be so good that nobody can ignore you.’”

“At the end of the day we’re beating people,” Little added. “They can put all his highlights or whatever, but on the last Monday if we win, we win. They can talk about Duke and how they could have won. But if we win, we win.”

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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