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UNC put away Arkansas 87-72 thanks to an impressive second half performance

Despite allowing another career day for an opposing player, the Tar Heels found a way to come away victorious.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis Third Place-Arkansas at North Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After losing a tough overtime game to Villanova yesterday, the Tar Heels were able to take down Arkansas 87-72, which was good enough for a third-place finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. RJ Davis led the team with 30 points, while the Razorbacks’ Tramon Mark had a career game with a team-high 34 points.

Carolina went into this game with a lot of fire despite having just lost to the Wildcats almost 24 hours ago. They went up 14-4 to open things up in what was a shared effort from the starters. Eventually Arkansas woke up, however, thanks mostly to Tramon Mark. He went 8-8 from the field, and managed to get to the free throw line a couple of times for good measure. The absence of Cormac Ryan was definitely felt, because one has to wonder whether or not things would’ve been different with his presence on defense. Outside of Mark, however, the only Razorback to make more than one basket in the half was Khalif Battle.

Once Arkansas started to cook, things started looking dire for the Tar Heels. They went large stretches without making a field goal, and really the only reason they went into halftime only down three is because they were able to get to the free throw line quite a bit. They did score 12 points off of turnovers, which was big considering how much of a struggle it was for them to get anything done in their half court sets.

Thankfully things turned around in the second half when UNC quickly took the lead within the first two minutes. RJ Davis scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half alone, which eclipsed anybody else on the team. Seth Trimble also had some really good moments off of the bench, and was the beneficiary of two excellent passes from Harrison Ingram. Trimble finished his afternoon with 12 points, four rebounds, and zero turnovers.

As far as his tag team partner goes, Ingram finished his day with 13 points, 10 assists, and six assists. More and more it’s feeling like Ingram could make an argument for being the best player on the team, and I don’t know that anybody could make a good argument against that fact. He’s played smart, he’s played physical, and he’s played with an intensity that we rarely saw from the team last year. It’s not a stretch to say that Ingram did an excellent job of covering up Cormac Ryan’s absence, and now the Heels can return to Chapel Hill and hope that the Notre Dame transfer can get back on the court soon.

While there’s a lot of good things that happened for the Tar Heels in this one, the game did end on a bad note. Tramon Mark fell really hard on his tailbone while attempting to grab a board, and the medical team had to carry him off in a stretcher. I will not speculate on what I think happened, but we all hope that he has a speedy recovery. Basketball is a really fun game, but the worst part of it is seeing anybody get hurt.

I’m sure we all can agree that losing to Villanova wasn’t ideal, but going 2-1 in a non-conference tournament isn’t the worst thing in the world. Arkansas played a really tough game, and a win over a ranked team is a fair consolation prize regardless of what happened yesterday. Up next for the Heels is #7 Tennessee Wednesday night in the Dean Smith Center.