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UNC hands Oklahoma first loss of the season behind RJ Davis

The Tar Heels showed up defensively in Charlotte.

NCAA Basketball: Jumpman Invitational-North Carolina at Oklahoma Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina handed Oklahoma their first loss of the season in Charlotte on Wednesday night as the Tar Heels won 81-69 in the Jumpman Invitational. The offensive effort was led by RJ Davis for UNC, as it has often been, but the defense was also impressive.

The game was one where it looked like the Heels may pull away easily, but things definitely tightened up late in the second half. Carolina led by as many as 15 and Oklahoma was never able to grab a lead in the game.

UNC was led by RJ Davis’ 23 points. He hit five of his three-point attempts, dished out five assists, and had zero turnovers. Davis has been a force on offense for Carolina this season, especially as others have cooled as of late. Armando Bacot finished behind Davis in scoring with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Cormac Ryan (13) and Harrison Ingram (11) joined them in double figures. The Heels made just two of their 10 three-point attempts in the first half but more than made up for it with seven made three-pointers in the second half.

A major factor in the game was Oklahoma’s 18 turnovers. UNC scored 24 of their points off those turnovers, and managed to limit their own giveaways to nine for the game. In a game where the Heels were out-rebounded 41-34, those extra points were huge.

The Sooners came into tonight’s game averaging 84 points per game, same as UNC. Limiting them to 69 points is definitely a notable achievement for a team that had 85 or more in three of their last four contests.

Tonight’s win concludes an absolute gauntlet of games for the Tar Heels in which they faced ranked teams in five of their last six. It was the first time in the program’s history that they’d faced such a stretch. Winning three of the five games is a very strong result, and it will only serve to prepare them for the rest of the season and hopefully the tournament to follow.

Carolina finishes their 2023 slate against Charleston Southern in Chapel Hill next Friday.

See ya later, Big Grits