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North Carolina’s RJ Davis breaks Dean Smith Center record with career-high 42 points in win over Miami

In Sports
February 27, 2024
RJ Davis made North Carolina basketball history on Monday. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RJ Davis made North Carolina basketball history on Monday. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RJ Davis struggled mightily from the field in a Saturday slog against Virginia.

He bounced back Monday with a career game that made North Carolina history while adding a big boost to his All-America campaign.

Davis torched Miami for a career-high 42 points that set a scoring record for UNC’s Dean Smith Center in a 75-71 Tar Heels win. North Carolina needed every bit of his effort as the Tar Heels fended off a late Hurricanes rally that threatened to spoil his big night.

Miami’s late rally almost ruins record effort

Back-to-back Davis 3-pointers and a pair of free throws gave UNC a 72-59 lead with 3:31 remaining.

But Miami reeled off 11 unanswered points to cut North Carolina’s lead to 72-70 with 1:30 remaining.

Davis broke the scoring drought with a free throw to extend UNC’s lead to 73-70 with 24 seconds remaining. He missed the second and combined with Armando Bacot and Seth Trimble to miss five straight shots from the line down the stretch with the chance to ice the game.

Miami couldn’t capitalize, and Jae’Lyn Withers hit a pair from the stripe with 2.6 seconds remaining to seal the game after securing a rebound of Trimble’s second miss.

Davis outscores Carolina legends

The night lifts Davis’ name among North Carolina greats. Tyler Hansbrough previously held the Smith Center record with a 40-point performance against Georgia Tech in 2006. The Smith Center has hosted UNC basketball games since 1986 and been home to program greats including Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse and Antawn Jamison.

Davis is also the first North Carolina player to score 40 points in any arena since Harrison Barnes did so in the ACC tournament in 2011. He posted his historic night two days after shooting 1-of-14 from the field in a tough road win over Virginia.

Davis does damage from long distance

Davis scored 21 points in the first half while leading North Carolina to a 37-32 halftime lead. He then matched his first-half tally in the second to fight off the Miami rally. For the game, Davis made 14 of 22 shots from the field including a career-best 7 of 11 from 3-point distance. He added six rebounds, four steals and an assist.

No other Tar Heel scored in double digits as the normally balanced offense centered around its star guard. Harrison Ingram was North Carolina’s next-leading scorer with eight points alongside 10 rebounds and five steals.

Miami kept pace with its own hot shooting on a 14-of-30 (46.7%) effort from 3-point distance against a team that prides itself on perimeter defense. Norchad Omier led the Hurricanes with 22 points and five rebounds, while Bensley Joseph added 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. Ultimately, Davis’ heroics were too much to overcome.

The win allowed the ninth-ranked Tar Heels to improve to 14-3 in ACC play and extend their conference lead over second-place Duke (12-4) to 1.5 games. Miami dropped to 6-12 in ACC in play, extending a disappointing season that started with a preseason No. 13 ranking.

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