RJ Davis’ right index finger should point to better UNC success as it improves

By R.L. Bynum

CHAPEL HILL — You might say that the finger that’s on the pulse of what makes Carolina’s offense go is RJ Davis’ right index finger.

After he dislocated that finger on his shooting hand early in the season, he struggled to find his shooting stroke, and the team’s struggles followed. Davis shot under 40% seven times in November and December, with the Tar Heels going 3–4 in those games. When he shoots at least 40% this season, Carolina is 12–2.

Carolina (15–7, 7–4 ACC) could use more of the at 6:30 Saturday (ESPN) when the Tar Heels visit Duke (16–6, 7–4).

“It’s definitely a hassle just dealing with it,” Davis said. “It’s an injury on my shooting hand, shooting finger, where I’m trying to get a feel for the ball, so I kind of played through it and then it got better.”

When he reinjured it again at Syracuse, a game that was like a prizefight for him with the beatings he absorbed, that meant there was tape around that finger for Wednesday’s Pittsburgh game.

“I had re-dislocated it in the ’Cuse game, so it was a little bit sore and I’m working through it,” Davis said.

The results weren’t good.

After shooting 52.7% from the floor (39 of 74) and 52.8% (19 of 36) from 3-point range in the previous seven games, Davis shot a season-low 20.0% (3 of 15) from the floor and missed all six 3-point attempts (his previous worst was 0 of 4 at Virginia Tech.

That was the first time Davis had shot less than 40% since shooting 36.4% in the Dec. 30 loss at Pittsburgh and only the second time since shooting 33.3% on Dec. 13 against The Citadel.


“I’m just working through it, to see how I feel without the tape and we’ll progress from there.”

The finger was just one of the issues that came out of the Syracuse game, when he also got a black eye taking a late charge. He had to go through concussion protocols. There are probably boxers who lose fights that come out of them in better shape that Davis after that Jan. 24 game.

Had there been a Carolina game scheduled for the following Saturday, Davis said he definitely wouldn’t have played.

“I got a hit to the eye and went through some protocols just to make sure I’m good,” Davis said. “I sat out just to get back recovery-wise, making sure I feel good enough leading up to the next week. Went through the protocols, passed the testing and did some individual workouts just to get my legs back and get a feel for it energy-wise.”

Even an average shooting game for Davis against Pittsburgh would have made a huge difference. It possibly would have helped open up the inside, where the Panthers were sagging back and double-teaming Armando Bacot.

“We all know our capabilities and potential as individual players and that’s getting the ball inside to Mondo or we also penetrate, get the ball to the basket,” Davis said. “We’re all talented downhill type of players where we can create for ourselves or free for others. So I think that’s what I’m gonna have to do.”

In addition to RJ Davis improving, there was other good injury news, with word from Coach Hubert Davis that Puff Johnson practiced Thursday. He should be able to play after missing the last three games with a sore right knee.

UNC statistics

ACC standings

No. 16 Miami15–524–6
No. 13 Virginia15–523–6
No. 25 Pittsburgh14–621–10
N.C. State12–822–9
North Carolina11–919–12
Wake Forest10–1018–13
Boston College9–1115–16
Virginia Tech8–1218–13
Florida State7–139–22
Georgia Tech6–1414–17
Notre Dame3–1711–20

Saturday’s games
Duke 62, North Carolina 57
No. 13 Virginia 75, Louisville 60
Georgia Tech 73, Boston College 65
Virginia Tech 82, Florida State 60
Syracuse 72, Wake Forest 63
No. 26 Miami 78, No. 25 Pittsburgh 76
Clemson 87, Notre Dame 64
End of regular season

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 1 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 21 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 14 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57No. 12 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7TuesdayL, 92–85Wake ForestWinston-Salem15–9,
7–6 ACC
11SaturdayW, 91–71ClemsonHome 16–9,
8–6 ACC
13MondayL, 80–72No. 16 MiamiHome16–10,
8–7 ACC
19SundayL, 77–69N.C. StateRaleigh16–11,
8–8 ACC
22WednesdayW, 63–59Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.17–11,
9–8 ACC
25SaturdayW, 71–63No. 14 VirginiaHome18–11,
10–8 ACC
27MondayW, 77–66Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.19–11,
11–8 ACC
4SaturdayL, 62–57No. 12 DukeHome19–12,
11–9 ACC
ACC tournament
8WednesdayW, 85–61Boston CollegeGreensboro20–12
9ThursdayL, 68–59No. 14 Virginia Greensboro20–13

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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