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R.J. Davis, #8 North Carolina upend #1 Baylor

R.J. Davis racked up a career-high 30 points as North Carolina posted a 93-86 overtime win over defending national champion Baylor in an NCAA Tournament East Region second-round game on Saturday at Fort Worth, Texas.

North Carolina’s Brady Manek poured in 26 points before he was ejected for a flagrant foul.

After squandering a 25-point second-half lead and playing minus two starters down the stretch, the eighth-seeded Tar Heels never trailed in overtime against the top-seeded Bears (27-7). Davis had a three-point play in the extra session.

North Carolina continued what has been a late-season surge. The Tar Heels will play either Saint Mary’s or UCLA on Friday night in the East Region semifinals in Philadelphia.

“This last month and a half, we’ve been getting a lot better and we’re gelling. We’re peaking at the right time,” said Armando Bacot, who collected 15 points and 16 rebounds. “I’m just so proud of our team.”

“That was the craziest game I’ve ever been in, but it was fun. We got the ‘Dub’ and we’re moving on to Philly,” North Carolina’s Leaky Black said.

Adam Flagler pumped in 27 points, James Akinjo had 20 and Jeremy Sochan added 15 points for Baylor, which rallied in the last 10 1/2 minutes of regulation.

Akinjo’s three-point play with 15.8 seconds tied the game at 80-80. Davis missed a potential winning 3-pointer to end regulation.

A 12-0 run for the Tar Heels appeared to put the game out of reach in the second half, with the margin stretched to 67-42.

But Baylor mounted a response to close within 67-53 with more than eight minutes remaining. It was 71-62 by the 5:22 mark. Akinjo’s three-point play with 1:48 left made it 76-73. Bacot’s three-point play temporarily steadied the Tar Heels.

The Bears, who already were hampered by late-season injuries, fell into foul trouble by early in the second half. However, North Carolina guard Caleb Love fouled out with more than six minutes left shortly after Manek exited at 10:08.

The Tar Heels had to overcome a home-state crowd supporting Baylor, but they pulled off a second upset this month in a hostile environment after winning the regular-season final at Duke.

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