I’m not sure any of us were expecting us to spend our Friday night having to worry about the outcome of North Carolina’s matchup against Brown. Yet, we did.
The Bears pushed the Heels to the brink after a great shooting night and a poor defensive performance from Carolina. Brown shot 50% from the field for the game, but they only finished that way after missing nine of the their last 12 shots. They were at 60% at halftime, and as a result, led by as many as seven.
However, UNC had a great shooting night of their own and eventually pulled away, but they needed a career night from RJ Davis.
Davis led the Heels in scoring with 26 points, going 9-17 from the field and 6-9 from three. A couple of those threes down the stretch played a crucial role in UNC staving off the upset bid and hanging on for a win. As a result, Davis is player of the game in Carolina’s 94-87 victory over Brown.
The first half was not a completely unheard of story as even though it was a small conference opponent, UNC spent much of the half feeling out Brown and going back and forth with them. However, with just under seven minutes left, the Bears went on a 10-0 run, vaulting them into the lead. They threatened to maybe even take a double digit lead into the half, but a couple Davis threes right at the end ensured that the Heels only trailed three.
As Brown refused to go away to start the second, UNC battled with them mainly by feeding the bigs. The Heels didn’t fully pull away until Davis took over in crunch time. He scored 14 of UNC’s final 19 points, knocking down four threes in the final seven minutes. As he was doing that, Carolina turned a two-point deficit into an eventual seven-point win.
For a long time in this game, it seemed like the obvious answer for player of the game would be Armando Bacot. (And it’s also understandable if you still think he’s the answer.)
He was already coming off a 14 point, 4 rebound, 6-6 from the field performance in first half, when Bacot scored eight of UNC’s first 15 points in the second half. A missed field goal from him at the 13:21 mark was his first of the game after a 9-9 start, and ended up being his only non-free throw miss of the game.
Bacot got a well deserved rest after that, and luckily, the rest of the team put together its first good sequence of the game that didn’t involve him. Over the next couple minutes, UNC went on a run that took them back into the lead for the first time since the six-minute mark of the first half. Davis then went off, nipping him for POTG honors, but don’t overlook how good and important a game Bacot had. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist.
There’s quite a lot for UNC to work out if we take away anything from that game, but the Heels won’t have a mark in the dreaded bad loss column thanks to an incredible effort from RJ Davis.