CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With Joel Berry on the bench in a suit and boot, Justin Jackson accepted the scoring load for No. 7 North Carolina and knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers en route to tying a career-high with 27 points in Wednesday’s 83-74 win over Davidson.
The junior wing shot 9-of-19 from the floor, including a 7-of-13 mark from long range. He also added eight rebounds.
“I was just getting open looks and knocking them down,” Jackson said after the game. “I wasn’t rushing it. My teammates found me and definitely set some good screens to get me open, so half of it is definitely to them.”
Jackson’s seven 3-pointers are the most by a Tar Heel since Marcus Paige made that many at N.C. State on Feb. 26, 2014. Only six players in school history have made more.
Jackson’s outside shooting this season has shifted from hot to cold and now back again. He made 6-of-10 3-pointers in UNC’s first two games only to shoot 21.7 percent (5-of-23) over the next five games. Over his last three outings, however, the Tomball, Texas native has connected on 8-of-16 3-pointers and now leads the team in made 3-pointers (22).
Bench Provides Boost
Roy Williams turned to his blue team for an early wakeup call after his starting five stumbled off the tip. The reserves delivered with a 12-3 run to flip a seven-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Seventh Woods, Brandon Robinson and Stilman White joined Tony Bradley and Luke Maye with 14:52 to play in the first half. That lineup, consisting of three freshmen, a sophomore and a sixth-year senior, outscored the Wildcats, 10-0, over the next three minutes with offensive efficiency and defensive energy. By the time the reserves checked out with 10:59 left before halftime, UNC’s 10-3 deficit had become a 15-13 lead.
"We just brought energy and gave us a spark off the bench," Maye said. "Coach always preaches to play hard and do what he says, and that's what we were trying to do."
UNC’s bench outscored Davidson’s backups, 26-2.
First Half Spark
Luke Maye went to high school eight miles from Davidson’s campus and knows the Wildcats rather well. After all, Davidson was a finalist for Maye’s services before he committed to UNC in November 2014.
With UNC trailing 10-3, Maye scored back-to-back buckets, including his first 3-pointer of the season, to spark the Tar Heel offense. The sophomore forward, who missed five games with an ankle sprain, scored a career-high 10 points and tied his career high with six rebounds by halftime.
"Guys just found me open and I was able to knock a few shots in early, and that gave me a little confidence," Maye said.
Defense Locks Down
The Tar Heels’ offense was relatively stagnant without Berry running the show, thereby placing a significant need on defensive efficiency. UNC delivered by holding Davidson to 40.7 percent shooting. The Wildcats entered the game ranked 48th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, but managed 0.97 points per possession while turning the ball over on 22.4 percent of those trips.
Limited Backcourt Production
With Berry and Theo Pinson sidelined due to injury, senior guard Nate Britt and sophomore wing Kenny Williams made their first starts together in UNC’s backcourt with little fanfare. The duo combined for eight points on 2-of-12 shooting with nine assists against six turnovers.
Woods scored four points, dished out two assists and tallied two steals in 11 minutes (only one of which came in the second half).
The Tar Heels will play their third home game in eight days when Tennessee visits the Smith Center on Sunday for a 5 p.m. tip (ESPN). The Volunteers have won three in a row since dropping three of their first four games, including a pair of losses against common opponents in Chattanooga and Wisconsin.