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UNC downs Wake Forest behind RJ Davis’ career night

The vibes are high in Chapel Hill.

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

UNC came into Monday’s game against Wake Forest in the Smith Center on an eight-game win streak as the only undefeated team in the ACC. The Demon Deacons were averaging 81 points per game tied for second in the conference. It was a game that had the makings of at least giving the Tar Heels a tough fight, and that was absolutely true for the first 20 minutes of the game. Ultimately, UNC torched the Deacs in the second half for a 85-64 win.

Both teams were pretty icy from long distance in the first half. Carolina didn’t make a single three in the first half and Wake Forest nailed two late to bring their total to three. Armando Bacot had just two points and it ended up being an evenly matched first 20 minutes with Wake Forest holding a one point lead, 34-33, at the half.

The second half was all Tar Heels. Led largely by RJ Davis on his way to a career-high 36 points (23 of them after halftime), UNC out-scored the Demon Deacons 52-30 in the final 20 minutes of the game. They held the Wake offense to nearly 20 points below their season average. The Deacs did not make a three-pointer in the second half, going 3-20 from beyond the arc in the game.

Elliot Cadeau finished the game with 14 points, three assists, and just one turnover. Cormac Ryan (11) and Harrison Ingram (10) also finished in double figures. Ingram was the lone Tar Heel to have double digit rebounds with 14. He continues to be a huge asset on the boards. Carolina shot 52% from the field for the game and held Wake Forest to just 36%.

It shouldn’t be overlooked how impressive this win is. The Demon Deacons are no pushovers this year, and their offense looked pretty terrible in the second half. Maybe you can argue that some of that was just them not playing especially well, but it would be quite the coincidence that nearly every opponent the Heels play happen to not play well when facing the guys in light blue. The defense is legit and a tremendous weapon for Hubert Davis’ squad.

It also can’t be overstated how important RJ Davis is to this team. He has the ability to win a game for them on any given night, and it has proven to be difficult to find a way to stop him for all 40 minutes. His 36 points were the most by a Tar Heel in the Smith Center since Tyler Hansbrough dropped 39 on Clemson back in 2008. He very nearly out-scored Wake Forest in the second half by himself. The Dean Dome crowd chanting RJ’s name in the final minutes of this one was very deserved praise for a guy that has been the absolute heart of the Heels this year.

With the win, Carolina moves to 8-0 in conference play. Their win streak now sits at nine games. It’s the first time they’ve been 8-0 to start conference play since 2016. They will try to keep both those marks rolling on Saturday in Tallahassee against Florida State.