There’s a certain amount of humor in the fact that when Caleb Love left UNC last year, the assumption was so that RJ Davis could take over as the primary ball handler and that the arrival of Elliot Cadeau was going to upset that mix yet again.
Nine games in, I think it’s safe to say that assumption was wrong.
Last year in the Garden, Davis had a decent game. He scored 21 points, but did it going 6/13 from the field, 1/5 from three and 8/9 from the line. For his repeat performance he was more spectacular. Davis led the Tar Heels with 26 points—his fifth in a row over 20—on 8/17 shooting, 4/8 from behind the arc and a perfect 6/6 from the free throw line. He also once again provided a spark when needed, sinking baskets when it seemed like UConn was ready to run away with the game.
It’s also worth noting that of the starters, he tied Harrison Ingram with the best +/-, only going -8 while some of his teammates were in deep double digits. He also nabbed four boards on the defensive end, but the game-high 38 minutes ultimately caught up to him by the end of the game.
Davis seems to have become unlocked by the play of the point guards in Cadeau and Seth Tremble, as the ball moves around and he’s able to catch and shoot more in rhythm. The confidence is there a lot more than it was in places before, and his role seems very well-defined. I don’t think anyone expected him to be this consistent of an offensive force this deep into the season.
Harrison Ingram also showed up well, getting off to a slower start but finishing the night with 20 points, also in 38 minutes, on 8/13 shooting. He was also a smooth 3/4 behind the three-point line, and arguably should have been more involved in the offense based on how consistent the ball fell. A lot of credit also should go to the UConn defense, as it’s becoming clear that teams have to watch Ingram now as closely as they defend Armando Bacot.
Bacot once again had a double double with 13/13, but he was clearly affected by the effort UConn put on him down low. He only shot 4/12 from the field, and his free throws — something that had been much better-fell to only 5-10 on the night. In an 11 point game, all of those misses add up quickly.
RJ Davis is putting together a special season this rate. RJ Davis was on the Wooden Award preseason watch list, and with this continued effort he’s increasing the chances he has of having his name called at the end of the season.