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Friday May 20th

'We didn’t bring our energy': Low sense of urgency dooms UNC against Miami

Sophomore guard RJ Davis (4) dribbles the ball down the court during the game against Furman on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the Dean E. Smith Center. UNC won 74-61.
Buy Photos Sophomore guard RJ Davis (4) dribbles the ball down the court during the game against Furman on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the Dean E. Smith Center. UNC won 74-61.

Typically, one would expect to come home from a trip to Miami with some happy memories. On Tuesday, the Tar Heels had whatever the opposite of a Florida vacation is, as the Hurricanes blew them out.

While North Carolina men’s basketball head coach Hubert Davis said the team “checked the box on preparation,” the team’s foundation was weak in its matchup against Miami.

UNC’s six turnovers – four of which Miami converted – early in the first half set the tone for the rest of the game. Turnovers combined with poor shooting made for a tough 40 minutes.

Tuesday’s game saw North Carolina surrender 30 points off turnovers: the most by an opponent since Texas in November 2018. With the Hurricanes recording 10 steals, that kind of passing will depress your assist total along with your fans.

“We didn’t bring our energy," sophomore RJ Davis said. "We didn’t play Carolina basketball."

The sloppy passing and consequent turnovers seem to be recurring themes from last season and earlier this season. UNC had 18 turnovers in its November game against UNC-Asheville, which was its third consecutive game with more turnovers than assists.

In UNC’s most recent loss against Notre Dame, it had 14 turnovers – doubling the amount of the Fighting Irish, and the same amount as Tuesday’s game. The inability to protect the ball is lethal. 

When will fans see change? 

“At this moment, I don’t know,” Hubert Davis said. “Very disappointed in our fight, competitiveness, our effort. Just very disappointed.”

Previously the best 3-point team in the ACC, averaging just under 40 percent, UNC missed the mark Tuesday, shooting just 20 percent from the arc. Miami shot 46 percent from the 3-point line and had three players score over 20 points.

UNC’s leading scorer, junior Armando Bacot, had 15. 

“We just had to be in the gap and just talk. That was the main thing, and I don’t think we did that today,” RJ Davis said.

Hubert Davis said that UNC’s difficulties may stem from the team’s lack of leadership — and that the only way to change is for the players to start with themselves.

“I’ve never seen a good team absent of that," he said. "At this moment, we do not have any. That’s something that needs to change, that has to change and that must change."

Junior Leaky Black, while not necessarily a scoring force, is a huge asset to the team on defense. As one of the older players on the team, he has some leadership responsibilities. He said he tries to be effective without the ball and find ways to help out teammates. 

“Say RJ’s struggling,” Black said. “I know ways to get him open, screening for him, making it easier for him to get to the goal, getting an easier shot. If there’s something he’s not seeing that I see, I can just let him know and be a leader.”

RJ Davis said the team needs to change its whole mindset and rely on each other to generate energy if they hope to see wins on the road moving forward. 

“They made shots, I think we just couldn’t cut the water leak,” he said. “They were able to make shots down there on their end, and coming down, we just weren’t able to get defensive stops as well as score and run our sets properly.”

Ultimately, the Tar Heels should’ve boarded up their windows better Tuesday night.

“There’s not much talking we can do,” RJ Davis said. “We can say ‘we could do this, we could do that,’ but our actions are gonna have to be that pull, that factor that allows us to win games.”

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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