Hubert Davis focuses on defense for No. 18 UNC vs. Charleston

NCAA Basketball

Hubert Davis focuses on defense for No. 18 UNC vs. Charleston

Hubert Davis has coached only two games for his alma mater — No. 18 North Carolina — but the former Tar Heels guard recognizes he has a problem.

His squad’s defense.

After narrowly dodging an enormous upset in the first week of the season, Davis will take his group to South Carolina on Tuesday night to face Charleston in the Tar Heels’ first road game of the season.

Matched up Friday against visiting Brown, North Carolina (2-0) found itself in a dogfight from the outset. The Tar Heels needed a pair of free throws from Caleb Love with 27 seconds left to secure the win and avoid making college basketball headlines for the wrong reason.

The Ivy League school reached the half-century mark after 20 minutes, possessing a 50-47 lead over UNC.

However, Brown — which did not play last season due to the pandemic — could not keep up with the Tar Heels’ fast pace and speed.

“I was very proud of them, how they responded,” Davis said. “Brown was a very good team; played extremely well. And we didn’t panic. Everybody that played in the game made a play that helped our team win.”

UNC received a standout performance from RJ Davis, who had a career-high 26 points.

Armando Bacot (22 points) made all but one of his field-goal attempts and added 10 rebounds. Brady Manek scored 14 points off the bench while Love had 13.

But after watching the Bears drive past his squad for easy layups, Davis realizes his defense is an area of concern.

“We’ve got to get better on the defensive end,” Davis said. “We just weren’t good at all. There was a point in the second half that they were shooting 60 percent from the field. That’s hard to do.

“You’re in the gym by yourself, no defense, 6 out of 10. But 6 out of 10 with a defense on you, that’s not going to get it done. But towards the end – the last 25 possessions – we held them 5-of-25 from the field.

“When we needed to step up defensively, we did, but we’ve got to get better on that end.”

Charleston (3-0) has something in common with the Tar Heels: Both teams have early season victories over Loyola (Maryland).

UNC knocked off Loyola 83-67 in its season opener, and Charleston edged the Greyhounds 79-72 Saturday.

The Cougars earned the Rising Coaches Classic title in the seven-point win, getting 20 points from Brenden Tucker, who is averaging 16.7 points per game and is shooting 71.4 percentage from 3-point range.

Bucknell transfer John Meeks turned in a blue-collar effort by getting 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Charleston outrebounded Loyola 50-32 and snagged 18 on the offensive end.

New Cougars coach Pat Kelsey arrived from in-state Winthrop, bringing a fast, intense style that could present problems for the Tar Heels, who will encounter an energetic crowd that was a factor in Charleston’s weekend tournament.

“To me, the story of the game — and it’s not even close — was the energy of the student body,” Kelsey said Thursday after his team’s 106-74 win over South Carolina State. “That’s the story, by a blowout. The energy in there was electric. It makes the hair on my arm stand up.”

–Field Level Media

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