The North Carolina Tar Heels basketball program has been highly scrutinized and criticized as soft and underachieving all season. Led by first-year head coach and Tar Heels legend Hubert Davis, Carolina entered the 2022 NCAA Tournament as an unusually low No. 8 seed.
The Heels didn’t have a signature win until their surprise upset of archrival Duke to ruin Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
They added another one on Saturday in Fort Worth. Led by guard RJ Davis, who poured in a career-high 30 points, the Heels upset No. 1 seed and defending national champion Baylor 93-86 in overtime, minus two starters for the last ten minutes of the second half and overtime.
RJ Davis was asked after the game what was going through his mind as the team prepared to play the overtime. “I didn’t want to go home,” he said. “I mean, there was no time to be tired. I knew it was at stake and we all wanted to win.”
Hubert Davis Made History
Playing or coaching at North Carolina is pretty special in itself, but for Davis it’s surreal. The former Tar Heels sharpshooter was a member of the 1990 UNC team which was seeded eighth. They upset the No. 1-seeded Oklahoma Sooners. With Saturday’s win he’s the first coach to beat a No. 1 seed as a player and coach with the same school.
The 2000 Tar Heels were also an eighth seed, making the Final Four, giving the Heels three wins all-time versus a top seed as an eight seed.
Once considered a bubble team, the Heels have responded under Davis. People had huge questions about a team that suffered regular-season double-digit losses to Tennessee, Kentucky, Duke, Miami and Wake Forest, and then a blowout loss to eventual ACC Champion Virginia Tech in the tourney semis.
Many wondered which UNC team would show up in the NCAA Tournament. Thus far the talented, efficient version has been front and center. And Davis seems to be developing a culture in his first season at the right time.
With his successor and one of his mentors Roy Williams in the stands, Davis leaned on the knowledge and calm demeanor he gained under Williams and his legendary coach Dean Smith. That UNC aura and mystique was needed to get his squad to the East Regionals semis in Philadelphia.
Davis talked about how he constantly stresses to his players about being ready to capitalize on their opportunity to shine.
“I always say that you will get an opportunity with me, the thing that I can’t guarantee is where, when, or how and the manner in which it will come. The only thing that you are required is that when that opportunity comes is to be ready.”
Davis is a DMV native, having attended Lake Braddock High School in northern Virginia. He actually attended high school with soccer legend Mia Hamm. Hubert is the nephew of former Tar Heel and NBA player Walter Davis.
Davis led the Heels to the 1991 Final Four, their first since their 1982 national championship.
The sharp-shooting Davis is the school’s all-time leader in three-point shooting percentage and was known for the same during his pro career.
As a senior, Davis averaged 21.4 points and was drafted 20th overall in the 1992 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He played in the league for 13 years.
Tar Heels Are Two Games From New Orleans: They’ve Won Two Titles On The Bayou
UNC will face UCLA in the Sweet 16, needing two wins to get to the Final Four. UNC has six national championships: 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2017.
Those 1982 and 1993 titles were won in magical fashion in New Orleans. The Michael Jordan jump shot in 1982 and Chris Webber timeout in 1993.
While Davis never won a title as a player, he has his team in position to play for one in two weeks.
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