Carolina’s miserable 2022-23 season has likely come to a close. Needing a minimum of an ACC Tournament championship game appearance (and possibly the automatic bid from winning it) to have any hope of making the NCAA Tournament, UNC got bounced by Virginia 59-68. They are likely done for the season.
Win or go home, backs against the wall, nothing left to lose, etc etc etc... The Tar Heels did not bring that type of energy or mentality to the Greensboro Coliseum. Armando Bacot could be excused, he was essentially playing on one leg. There was only one player that gave Carolina a prayer against a wounded Virginia team that was there for the taking.
RJ Davis, in what was hopefully not his last game in a UNC uniform, was outstanding. He scored 24 points on 8-14 shooting (4-8 from three). In a game where all the other starters were cold (Caleb was the only other starter to score in double-digits, and he was scoreless in the first half) and the bench only provided five points, everything was all on RJ’s shoulders.
His shooting performance will leave Tar Heels fans wondering “What if?” thanks to the multiple finger injuries he suffered this season on his shooting hand, a set of maladies just as consequential as Armando’s ankles. Caleb could go on heaters, and when he caught fire, he gave Carolina rocket fuel. RJ was more like UNC’s ballast, keeping the offense steady and on track.
UNC’s best chance to catch Virginia and win in the second half came at the 2:02 mark. With Carolina down 52-57, RJ Davis had the ball on the right wing. He was essentially in triple coverage, as Caleb Love and Puff Johnson’s defenders sagged off of them to clog the lane. RJ still drove right, found space and scored an And-1 lay-up, and converted the free throw to bring the Heels within two.
They wouldn’t score again until Virginia put nine more points on the board.
This Carolina team could not afford for multiple players to have off nights. It’s sad but fitting that the season ended with yet another example of that happening again at the worst possible time.