By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — While Carolina’s unquestioned key to success is Armando Bacot and Caleb Love playing well, winning consistently will require a big game from at least one other Tar Heel.
Bacot and Love did their part Saturday night when that third guy was RJ Davis. He rebounded from a scoreless day against Virginia to score 16 of his 21 points in the first half as UNC (12–4, 4–1 ACC) rolled to a season sweep of Georgia Tech (7–9, 1–5) with an 88–65 victory.
After going 0 of 10 in the home win over Virginia a week earlier, Davis was 8 of 11 from the floor and 4 of 6 from 3-point range. It was his third game with at least 20 points this season, including scoring 23 against the Jackets in Atlanta. He was a team-high +31 Saturday and dished out a team-high six assists.
“They were able to find me and I was able to create my own [shot],” Davis said. “Coming into the game, I knew I was capable of making shots. I know my confidence is at a high level. So, coming into this game, I was being who I am and not worrying about the last game. Once I saw one go in and then another one, I found my groove and I just kept going.”
Bacot was stellar again, with his second consecutive career-high 29 point game. He’s made 31 of 47 shots in the last three games and pulled down 12 rebounds to become the sixth Tar Heel to record seven consecutive double-doubles. He drew half of Georgia Tech’s 20 fouls.
“I feel like we took a step in the right direction to show our maturity to go out and play,” Bacot said.
The last time a Tar Heel scored at least 29 points in consecutive games was Tyler Hansbrough in the 2007–08 season, when he followed up a 32-point game at N.C. State with 29 at home against Wake Forest. Before Hansbrough, Antawn Jamison did it in the 1997–89 season and Hubert Davis did it in the 1991–92 season.
Love had 14 points and four assists but six turnovers.
Bacot, Love and Davis were spark plugs for a Carolina offense that was as efficient as it has been all season and shot 46.6% from the floor. Even though it was against the lowly Yellow Jackets, it still was striking.
Coach Hubert Davis says it all starts on the defensive end.
“I think it’s starting to resonate with them how important it is to defend and allow us to get out in transition and also just the beauty of sharing the ball,” he said.
Georgia Tech’s Michael Devoe was the nation’s leading scorer early in the season and came into the game averaging 20.5 points per game. Saturday, he scored two points, got off only five shots and had six turnovers as Leaky Black’s defense locked him down.
“Really, with a guy like Devoe who is so dynamic, you just have to make him uncomfortable,” said Black, who also had four assists and a steal.
Hubert Davis called Black the best defender in the league.
“He’s unbelievable,” Davis said. “Every game, he’s assigned to play the best offensive player from the perimeter and he loves that challenge. He’s an elite defender. He can not only defend, he can distribute and can take care of the basketball.”
Dawson Garcia made an impact in his return from a concussion with 11 rebounds in nearly 20 minutes as UNC outrebounded Tech 42–26. Fellow big man Brady Manek contributed 11 points and four assists.
UNC jumped out to a 13–4 lead. With a five-point possession, the Jackets cut it to 26–21. But 3-pointers by Manek and Davis pushed the edge back to 32–23 and the Tar Heels led 42–26 at halftime.
Carolina led by as many as 32 points midway through the second half. Only a late 7–0 Tech run made the final score as close as it was.
Guard Anthony Harris didn’t play and all Coach Davis would say was that he was “unavailable for the game” and hopes he returns against Miami. That was the same explanation Davis gave for assistant coach Sean May’s absence.
Jordan Usher led the Jackets with 22 and Deivon Smith added 16.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Tar Heels, who visit Miami on Tuesday night.
No. 4 UNC 16, Sacred Heart 5
UNC season statistics
day, time, TV
|5||83–55 exhibition win||Home||Elizabeth City State|
|9||83–67 win, 1–0||Home||Loyola Maryland|
|12||94–87 win, 2–0||Home||Brown|
|16||94–83 win, 3–0||Road||College of Charleston|
|20||93–84 loss, 3–1||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 7 Purdue|
|21||89–72 loss, 3–2||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 22 Tennessee|
|23||72–53 win, 4–2||Home||UNC Asheville|
|December (5–1, 1-0 ACC)|
|1||72–51 win, 5–2||Home||X — Michigan|
|5||79–62 win, 6–2, 1-0 ACC||Road||Georgia Tech|
|11||80–63 win, 7–2||Home||Elon|
|14||74–61 win, 8–2||Home||Furman|
|18||98–69 loss, 8–3||Las Vegas||Z — No. 18 Kentucky|
|21||70–50 win, 9–3||Home||Appalachian State|
|January (3–1, 3–1 ACC)|
|2||91–65 win, 10–3, 2-0 ACC||Road||Boston College|
|5||78–73 loss, 10–4, 2-1 ACC||Road||Notre Dame|
|8||74–58 win, 11–4, 3–1 ACC||Home||Virginia|
|15||85–65 win, 12–4, 4–1 ACC||Home||Georgia Tech|
|18||Tuesday, 7 p.m., ACCN||Road||Miami|
|22||Saturday, 8, ACCN||Road||Wake Forest|
|24||Monday, 8, ACCN||Home||Virginia Tech|
|26||Wednesday, RSN||Home||Boston College|
|29||Saturday, 2, ACCN||Home||N.C. State|
|1||Tuesday, 8, ACC Network||Road||Louisville|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Home||No. 8 Duke|
|8||Tuesday, 9, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||Clemson|
|12||Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2||Home||Florida State|
|16||Wednesday, 8, ACCN||Home||Pittsburgh|
|19||Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||Virginia Tech|
|21||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Louisville|
|26||Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||N.C. State|
|28||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Syracuse|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Road||No. 8 Duke|
Y — Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off; Z — CBS Sports Classic