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UNC finishes strong to down Wake Forest behind RJ Davis

The Tar Heels muscled up when they needed to for a win.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC shot 60% from the field in the second half, including 22 second-half points from RJ Davis, on their way to an 88-79 win against Wake Forest in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. The Tar Heels scored 51 points after being down one point at halftime in the back-and-forth contest that saw 20 lead changes.

Davis, as mentioned above, scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half. He joined the 1000-point club earlier in the game and was absolutely on fire in the second 20 minutes of play. Armando Bacot scored 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds, falling just short of another double-double.

While Davis took control of the game in the second half, Leaky Black was excellent in the first half. Pete Nance left the game two minutes in with an injury, forcing everyone to step up in his place. Black, who doesn’t normally stuff the stat sheet with points, scored 14 of his 18 points (a career-high) before halftime. He made three of his four shots from long distance to get there. This was especially important with Caleb Love really struggling to find any offensive rhythm all game. He finished the game with just seven points on 3-15 shooting.

Seth Trimble was absolutely incredible off the bench. On a night when one of the starting guards was unable to give the team much of anything, Trimble made an immediate positive impact. He finished the game with 11 points and just one turnover in 22 minutes of play.

Carolina really punished the Demon Deacons for their 15 turnovers, scoring 32 points off them. In a game where UNC was out-rebounded (28-33), had fewer second-chance points (4-17), fewer assists (12-16), and were out-scored off the bench despite losing a starter early (15-22), those points were especially critical. Without those points, it’s very plausible that the Heels come away from this game with a loss. They also did that while limiting their own turnovers to just nine.

After failing to close late in the game against Pittsburgh, UNC was able to muscle their way to a win with their play late in this one. The fact that they did it without Nance and virtually without Love is a huge testament to the play of Davis, Bacot, Black, and Trimble. They showed a real toughness that has not always been especially evident so far this season.

The Tar Heels will look for a two-game ACC win streak when Notre Dame visits the Dean Dome this Saturday at 11:30 am.