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Feb 25, 2024 4:33 pm

High-flying No. 10 North Carolina tries to deepen Miami’s troubles

rj davis tar heels

Even with a quick turnaround for its next game, No. 10 North Carolina should be refreshed and ready for the stretch drive of the season.

The Tar Heels are back in action against visiting Miami on Monday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

North Carolina (21-6, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) has returned to first place in the ACC, moving a game ahead of Duke with three games remaining. Coach Hubert Davis said it’s time to push the accelerator.

“We need to floor it,” Davis said. “There’s more to be said and more to be done. We just have to have that type of mindset.”

North Carolina had a week off before winning 54-44 on Saturday at Virginia, but this next outing comes with just one day off.

Miami (15-13, 6-11) is on a six-game losing streak after losing to visiting Georgia Tech 80-76 on Saturday.

This is a rematch from North Carolina’s 75-72 escape Feb. 10 at Miami. The Tar Heels drained 11 3-point baskets in that game as they overcame 16 turnovers. Guard RJ Davis poured in 25 points with five 3s and freshman guard Elliot Cadeau posted a season-best 19 points.

Yet there were moments of potential for Miami in that game.

“The thing about North Carolina is that they’re exceptional at running the court,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “They outran us in the first five minutes and we fought back and had a one-point lead at the half.

“And then they came out and did the same thing and we were down 10 again. We fought back and put ourselves in a position to win the game late but were not able to pull it off.”

It was a similar story in the Georgia Tech game: Solid second-half stretches were encouraging, but not enough to overcome a double-digit deficit.

“We fought back late, but you have to give them credit,” Larranaga said. “We forced some turnovers to give us a chance late in the game, but unfortunately were not able to overcome a 10-point (hole).”

Miami, which hasn’t won since Feb. 3 vs. Virginia Tech, took more than half of its 69 field-goal attempts from beyond the arc Saturday, going 13-for-36 on 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Tar Heels had a season-low point total in the Virginia game, but that’s not unusual for teams facing the Cavaliers. Graduate student Cormac Ryan had 18 points, the first time he has led North Carolina in scoring.

Ryan’s total came by making a season-best six 3-pointers — the most long-range buckets for any Tar Heels player this season.

“We were able to get some baskets in the second half around and in the paint because of Cormac and his ability to shoot the basketball,” Hubert Davis said.

Ryan has drained 24 shots from 3-point range across the past eight games.

On defense, North Carolina posted a season-high 10 blocked shots against Virginia.

“We needed to step up on the defensive end and were able to do it,” Hubert Davis said.

North Carolina holds a 27-10 all-time record against the Hurricanes, including a 20-9 mark since Miami joined the ACC. In this year’s first meeting, Norchad Omier scored 20 points for Miami; he leads the Hurricanes with 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

–Field Level Media

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