CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — RJ Davis scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 19 North Carolina battled through 40 minutes of relentless competition from Brown, outlasting the Ivy League foe 94-87 on Friday night.
Armando Bacot had 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels (2-0), who trailed by as many as seven points and never led by more than eight.
“I wouldn’t have asked for any type of different turnout. I felt like, today, we grew a lot as a team,” Bacot said. “It was good to just be in a dogfight early on in the season, that way, later on, we’ll kind of have some experience in those types of situations.”
North Carolina trailed by two with 7:14 remaining before Davis powered an 18-9 run, making four 3-pointers and a pair of free throws in the burst. He finished 9 of 17 from the floor and 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
“I just played from the flow of the game,” Davis said. “I didn’t really think about them trying to disrespect me or whatever.”
Dan Friday had 21 points and five assists for Brown, which built its biggest advantage late in the first half and led 50-47 at halftime. Nana Owusu-Anane scored 20 points for the Bears.
“(Friday) played with great pace. He had command of the ball,” Brown coach Mike Martin said. “Obviously, our offense, we couldn’t keep up that pace for 40 minutes. We fouled too much, we got hurt inside.”
Both teams shot better than 50% from the floor.
Brady Manek came off the bench to score 14 points for North Carolina, and Caleb Love added 13 points, including two free throws with 27 seconds remaining that sealed the win.
Brown: The Bears’ 2020-21 season was canceled because of the pandemic, and they have 10 new players. Brown still showed it had the talent to compete with a top Atlantic Coast Conference team. Brown was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League but could outperform those expectations if it plays like it did on Friday.
“We don’t feel good after a loss, ever,” Martin said. “This is not a surprise for the people in our program. We lost a game we felt we should’ve won. This can be a solid basketball team.”
North Carolina: In Hubert Davis’ second game as the Tar Heels’ coach, his team showed it could hold off a persistent opponent.
“I was very proud of them, how they responded. Brown was a very good team; played extremely well. And we didn’t panic,” Davis said. “Everybody that played in the game made a play that helped our team win.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
North Carolina led the ACC last season in giving the ball away with 14.7 turnovers per game. Against Brown, it had just seven, and only two came from the backcourt of Davis and Love. With 11 assists between them, the duo had an assist-turnover ratio of 5.5. As a team last season, the Tar Heels had a -0.97 mark.
With wins against teams from the Patriot and Ivy leagues, the Tar Heels are unlikely to see a significant bump in their ranking.
Retired coach Roy Williams attended his second straight game, sitting with wife Wanda near the southeast tunnel, just above the floor that bears his name. ... Manek, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, scored in double digits for the 77th time in his career.
Brown: The Bears return home to face Central Connecticut on Sunday.
North Carolina: UNC plays its first road game of the season at the College of Charleston on Tuesday.
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