College Hoops Today: RJ Davis Pours in Career-Best 36
RJ Davis had a career night in leading the Heels to another big W. (Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon)
The Kansas Jayhawks’ loss to the West Virginia University Mountaineers saw them drop to No. 7 in the rankings; in Jeremiah Fears, the Illinois Fighting Illini landed its first five-star commitment since at least 2007; and RJ Davis went off for a career-high 36 as the University of North Carolina Tar Heels enjoyed another dominant win in the Atlantic Coast Conference (see more on that story below).
UNC Tearing Through the ACC
Surprisingly, the North Carolina Tar Heels were only favoured by 7.5 points in their home matchup against Wake Forest on Monday, and — spoiler alert — that clearly wasn’t enough as the Heels shook off a rough first half to cruise to an 85-64 win.
Third-ranked UNC is now 16-3 overall, but more importantly has gone 8-0 in ACC play, with the last seven wins all being by at least 10 points. Man, the Heels are for reals!
As mentioned above, Davis led the way Monday with a new personal best in points (see video below). He’s mostly shone during in-season tourneys, as this was the first regular season game this campaign in which he topped even 23. But we love how this senior has gotten better and better each season, highlighted in 2023-24 with a higher bucket count, an improved shooting touch (as he’s done each season) and nearly five points more per contest.
Davis, a blazingly fast but small PG, was particularly efficient on Monday (14-of-23 from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc). Already being mentioned as one of the top UNC guards in years, he could possibly go in the second round of this year’s NBA draft, but a strong finish and deep tourney run would really improve his stock.
Hunter Dickinson a Candidate For Hardware
As mentioned above, the Jayhawks took a tumble in the rankings this week in the wake of an upset loss to the Mountaineers. Well, don’t blame senior centre Hunter Dickinson for that defeat; he poured in 19 points with five assists, two blocks and two steals for this third straight game of at least 19. Okay, so he cooled off in Monday’s win (just 10 points), but was limited by foul trouble.
Clearly, there’s a reason why Dickinson is currently +3000 to win the Wooden Award as per odds at FanDuel — because he’s damned good! He’s actually playing a bit less as a senior, but has never had a better shooting touch (at least from inside the arc) and has taken his rebounding to a new level.
A projected second round pick this year, Dickinson was among the top transfers of last offseason, moving over to Kansas from Michigan. Given his strength, he’s a force on both O and D, and can be a real asset as a shot blocker. He’s a force in the paint, but the biggest knock on Dickinson is his lack of quickness, a major concern if he has to guard bigs that can stretch the floor.
UMass Lowell Gunning for First March Madness Ticket
Since jumping up to Division I play in 2013-14, the UMass Lowell River Hawks have never made it the NCAA tourney, although in fairness, they weren’t eligible until 2017-18.
But could that all change this year?
The River Hawks have been on an upward trajectory since losing 19 games in 2019-20 and topped out at 26 wins last season. This year, things are going even better; after a solid 9-4 showing in the non-conference portion of its schedule, UMass Lowell sits at 5-0 in American East play and legitimately does look like the best bet to win the conference tourney.
On Saturday, the River Hawks won their seventh straight (80-60 over Binghampton) thanks to another strong showing by senior guard Quinton Mincey (17 points, career-high five steals and two assists). He’s now scored 17 or more in five of the last six games despite playing exclusively off the bench this season. Mincey’s three-point shooting has been awful this season, but he’s compensated for that with dramatically improved free throw shooting.
He’s not likely an NBA draft prospect, but is sure enjoying a strong run towards the end of his career, so perhaps he will get a shot to play overseas.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Big Audio Dynamite took what The Clash did, and added other elements, spitting out a curious mix of punk, dance, hip hop, reggae and funk. In 1986, they released their second album, No. 10, Upping St., and among the bonus tracks on the U.S. CD was “Ice Cool Killer,” an instrumental take of “Limbo the Law.”