Busting Brackets

UNC Basketball: 3 takeaways from an impressive high-scoring win over Duke

North Carolina scored a huge victory over Duke in Chapel Hill Saturday night, putting more distance between themselves and the Blue Devils in the ACC standings. What did we learn about UNC?

Armando Bacot punctuated the Tar Heels' win in style
Armando Bacot punctuated the Tar Heels' win in style / Grant Halverson/GettyImages
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1) Carolina can win even when RJ Davis isn't at his best

RJ Davis has been one of the best players in the country. The ACC Player of the Year frontrunner has been consistently prolific in leading the conference in scoring with 21.5 points per game, and he's done it from all over the court. Davis is shooting over 41% from three, and he has one of the best mid-range jumpers in the nation. He's also been lethal on the fast break, and nearly perfect from the free throw line.

An off night for Davis is so rare that we haven't really had a chance this season to see how Carolina would respond if he wasn't at his best. Against Duke, it finally happened, and it has to make UNC fans giddy about their team's prospects the rest of the way.

Bear in mind, even a subpar game by Davis' standards resulted in 17 points and five assists, but it didn't matter, because the rest of the team stepped up in a big way. Harrison Ingram and Armando Bacot refused to let Duke back into the game, combining for 46 points and 23 rebounds to vastly outpace Duke's starting frontcourt of Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell, who combined for 33 points and 12 rebounds.

We'll get into Bacot shortly, but Ingram deserves his flowers for the way he performed in his first-ever UNC-Duke game. The Stanford transfer showed no trouble acclimating to the heightened pressure, and for a time it felt like his shots were so pure that they could touch nothing but net. He ended the game with five huge three-pointers, the same total that Duke sank as a team. He did more than just score, grabbing at least 13 rebounds for the fifth game in a row, and he even did the dirty work, as his dive on the floor and save out to midcourt earned the Heels a dagger corner three from Cormac Ryan with just over six minutes to go.

Ingram needs to be in the conversation for the best transfer of the year, as he's provided so many things that Carolina lacked last year. This team is having fun playing together, and if they keep this up, they'll be doing it deep into March.