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No. 9 UNC men's basketball beats Miami behind career-high 42-point performance from RJ Davis

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UNC senior guard RJ Davis (4) drives towards the basket in the Dean E. Smith Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 against UMiami. UNC won 75-71.

Behind a career-high 42-point game from senior guard RJ Davis, the No. 9 North Carolina basketball team (22-7, 15-3 ACC) beat the Miami Hurricanes (15-15, 6-13 ACC), 75-71, Monday night at the Dean E. Smith Center. 

Davis led the Tar Heels offensively, going 7-11 from beyond the arc and becoming the first Tar Heel in UNC history to compile 1,800 points, 200 three-pointers, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. With his performance, RJ Davis surpassed Tyler Hansbrough's record of 40 for most points scored in a game at the Smith Center.

“We needed every bit of his 42 tonight,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. “He was fantastic. I told him after the game that I’ve seen a number of performances here at Carolina and also in the NBA. Very few have I seen the type of performance that he had tonight. I was really proud of him.”

The Hurricanes took to shooting from the perimeter, going almost 50 percent from three, but struggled in the post, scoring just 18 points in the paint. UNC played a slightly more complimentary game with 26 points off layups and 44.3 percent shooting from the field. 

Both the Hurricanes and the Tar Heels had the green light from beyond the arc, with the first 15 points of the contest coming from back-and-forth threes between the two teams. However, the Tar Heels struggled early in the post, not scoring their first layup until seconds before the first media timeout and only grabbing their first lead seven minutes into the game.

Before long, due to two threes from Hurricane Kyshawn George, Miami equalized.

UNC took the lead back on a hot-potato possession — three turnovers in 30 seconds — culminating with RJ Davis taking the ball to the hole on the fast break. 

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UNC senior guard RJ Davis (4) sets a career high 42 points in the Dean E. Smith Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 against UMiami. UNC won 75-71.

The Hurricanes were able to make a splash in the first half, going 8-13 beyond the arc, which kept the two teams close.

Crucial turnovers in the post for UNC and accurate 3-point shooting from Miami led to the Tar Heels entering the locker room at half with a five point lead. RJ Davis ended the half on a high note for UNC with a contested three off the assist from first-year guard Elliot Cadeau

Throughout the side-by-side nature of the contest, the Tar Heels kept trying to pull away late in the second half with both junior wing Harrison Ingram and sophomore guard Seth Trimble creating three point plays by drawing the and-1. 

RJ Davis reached the 30-point mark, a drastic difference from his 12 in the game prior, with a deep three to extend the Tar Heels' lead with seven minutes left in the game. The New York native splashed another three 39 seconds later, this time off the pick-and-roll. Davis continued his 3-point bombardment with two more from behind the arc, effectively tying and surpassing his career high. 

Even with the outstanding performance from RJ Davis, the Hurricanes went on an 11-0 run in just over two minutes as UNC let its lead drop from 13 to two with thirty seconds remaining in the contest. But even though the Tar Heels were unable to make five of their last seven free throws, they hung on to win the contest, 75-71.

“We had a 10-point lead and then we kind of let them back into the game,” RJ Davis said. “Stuff like that, especially in March, we might lose that game. We gotta go back to the drawing board. Like yes, I had a great game. I had 42. But at the same time, we had a lot of points that we just gave up.”

The Tar Heels continue their homestand against N.C. State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“We're hungry for it. We haven't won it [the ACC regular season title] since 2019,” sophomore guard Seth Trimble said. “We want to hang a regular season and we know what it takes. Maybe we didn’t show that today, but we still have that hunger.”

@gracegnugent

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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