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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's basketball pulls away from Lehigh in second half in 90-68 victory

UNC senior guard RJ Davis (4) dribbles the ball during the men's basketball game against Lehigh at the Dean E. Smith Center on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. UNC won 90-68.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team (2-0) stayed in the win column with a victory over Lehigh University (0-3), 90-68, at the Dean E. Smith Center on Sunday afternoon. 

Graduate center Armando Bacot led the Tar Heel offense with his second double-double of the season – 22 points and 20 rebounds. Senior guard RJ Davis and junior forward Harrison Ingram were also instrumental in the victory as the only Tar Heels in the rotation who could drain 3-pointers. The duo chipped in 22 and 14 points, respectively.

Both the Tar Heels and Lehigh started off cold, going into the first media timeout with only 15 total points. First-year guard Elliot Cadeau and sophomore forward Jalen Washington were early substitutions for the Tar Heels. 

Throughout the first frame, the Tar Heels and Lehigh – on the catch-and-shoot – traded baskets and fouls as the Tar Heels slowly started inching away. However, UNC could not find a rhythm when it came to shooting on the perimeter. RJ Davis looked to fix the lackluster 3-point percentage as he scored the only threes in the first period

“That's kind of the plus, it's being able to have three-point shooters,” sophomore guard Seth Trimble said.”But today the [shots] didn't fall but luckily we were able to dominate the ball inside side we didn't have to stress about so much.” 

Ingram, the left-handed finisher, chipped in a few buckets and rebounds for the Tar Heels. 

With four minutes to go in the first half and UNC up by nine points, graduate transfer Jae’lyn Withers scored on hot-potato possession after a failed fast break by RJ Davis. Lehigh pulled closer to the Tar Heels by a couple 3-pointers while stretching the perimeter and steering clear of the post. The Tar Heels went into the locker room at the half up 43-34 behind leading scorers RJ Davis and Bacot. 

The Tar Heels opened in the second half with an and-one layup from RJ Davis. Bacot followed that play up with a lay-in three minutes into the half as UNC maintained its lead. 

“There's a sense of urgency that I haven't seen in [Bacot]. And I think because this is it. There's no more years after this,” head coach Hubert Davis said.  "And there's a passion and there's a desire in him, to leave on a good note, whatever that looks like.”

Lehigh kept up its 3-point shooting brigade by draining their first three of the half on a fast break. The offensive tempo of Lehigh required the Tar Heels to play 20 to 30 defensive shifts each possession – something Radford did not – and Davis commended his team on their defensive tenacity and effort.

Ingram showed his versatility late in the second frame, muscling in a layup and draining with a three from the corner – becoming the first Tar Heel aside from RJ Davis to hit a three – and celebrated with a chest bump with Trimble. 

After Lehigh cut the UNC lead to 53-50, the Tar Heels went on a 14-2 run and effectively limit the 3-point scoring from the Mountain Hawks. 

“There’s a calming aspect knowing that we’ve done this,” Ingram said. “I mean, [my teammates have] done it obviously a little more than I have, but they've done it at the highest level, and knowing that we've all been the man on teams at the end of the game, it’s just calming.” 

The Tar Heels continued to pull away until the end of the game to notch their second victory, 90-68.

UNC will next host UC Riverside at the Dean E. Smith Center on Friday at 8 p.m.


@dthsports |

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