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UNC 83, Davidson 74: Tar Heels hang on thanks to Justin Jackson’s big night

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Carolina hung on for a nine-point win despite a late rally from Davidson.

NCAA Basketball: Davidson at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not playing well for the most of the game, UNC had a 16-point lead with 12 minutes left. It wasn’t going to be a pretty win, but they looked to be headed towards a double digit victory over Davidson.

After the lead had dipped under 10, Justin Jackson hit a three to put Carolina up 12 with 5:28 left. The Tar Heels would not make a field goal the rest of the game. Jack Gibbs and Davidson then went on a 9-0 run, cutting Carolina’s lead to just three. Thanks to some free throws, UNC wound up holding on for a 83-74 win. However, they ended up making a mess of what should’ve been a comfortable victory.

The Tar Heels got off to a slow start in the first half as Davidson scored the first seven points of the game. After going on a run of their own and taking the lead, UNC started to settle into the game and built up a 10-point lead going into halftime.

The lead stayed somewhat in that range until Davidson’s late run. Turnovers and empty trips allowed Davidson to make it a one possession game. Some late offense rebounds allowed Carolina to build the lead back out to seven, before they finally iced it with late game free throws.

The bulk of North Carolina’s offense came from Justin Jackson. Jackson led UNC in scoring, tying his career high with 27 points. He also finished with a career high with seven three-pointers.

Jackson was really the only one who was able to really get going on offense. As a team, UNC shot 38% from the field. Isaiah Hicks finished as Carolina’s second leading scorer with 13 points, despite playing just 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Luke Maye was UNC’s third leading scorer with just 10.

In their first game as a starting backcourt following the injury of Joel Berry, Nate Britt and Kenny Williams didn’t have the best of games. Britt went 0-8 from the floor and scored just two points, coming on free throws late in the game. Kennedy Meeks also struggled, going 2-7 and scoring just nine points.

For Davidson, they really only had two players that really troubled Carolina. Gibbs put 30 points for the Wildcats, while Peyton Aldridge had 22. Until their late run, Davidson was shooting just as poorly as North Carolina was.

Davidson is not a bad team. They managed to keep it as close as they did because two players combined for 52 points. This was the first game following an injury to UNC’s arguably best and most important player. All of these are potential reasons that Carolina’s struggles might not be as bad as they appeared.

That being said, it was a very ugly game. Carolina are lucky they weren’t playing a better team that could take advantage of the their ugliness.