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RJ Davis sets a Smith Center record with 42 points. And UNC needed every one of them.

Luke DeCock, The News & Observer on

Published in Basketball

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Standing roughly on Bryson City on the outline of the state on the Smith Center floor — a figurative 280 miles from Chapel Hill and a literal 28 feet from the basket — R.J. Davis put to the test the theory that he could score from just about anywhere Monday night.

And he did. From the left wing. From the right wing (mostly). From the logo. From more places and more times than anyone else had before him.

With a Smith Center-record 42 points, Davis not only accounted for more than half of North Carolina’s offense in a nail-biting 75-71 win over Miami, he put on the kind of unprecedented individual display that carved out new space in the very thick UNC record book.

“Once I get my groove like that, it feels like I can’t miss,” Davis said. “I feel like I should have had 50. I missed free throws and whatnot. I just felt good. The shots felt good. The ball felt good. Everything felt great tonight.”

He was often open. But when Miami was in his face, he stepped back for more space. All the way to the logo, if that’s what it took.

“When he hit 30, with that little snatch-back on Matthew (Cleveland), I was like ‘Oh my God,’” Harrison Ingram said. “I was just smiling like, ‘You nice.’”

 

Whatever uncertainty there may have been about Davis’ candidacy for ACC player of the year, even as the front-runner, Monday removed all doubt.

Kyle Filipowski, Hunter Sallis, P.J. Hall? Fine players all. But there’s no more explosive or dangerous player in the ACC than Davis, and this was his finest performance yet, one that will unquestionably win over any voters left on the fence.

And did the Tar Heels ever need all of it.

Miami, playing without Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar, proved surprisingly difficult to dismiss, even with Davis on this heater, in part because Bensely Joseph and Norchad Omier both hit the 20-point mark — Hurricanes big man Omier with a career-high four 3-pointers — and in part because Davis got almost no help.

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