Tar Heels survive Manek’s ejection, big rally to beat last year’s champ Baylor

Published 4:11 pm Saturday, March 19, 2022


AP Sports Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas — RJ Davis scored a career-high 30 points with a nifty layup while being fouled in overtime, and eighth-seeded North Carolina blew a 25-point second-half lead but still found a way to beat defending champion Baylor 93-86 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

Brady Manek had a season-high 26 points before getting ejected because of a flagrant foul midway through the second half, right after his 3-pointer had given the Tar Heels (26-9) their largest lead.

A year after going out in the first round of the tourney in retiring coach Roy Williams’ final game, Davis, Armando Bacot and these Tar Heels (26-9) are headed to Philadelphia and a Sweet 16 for first-year coach Hubert Davis.

RJ Davis, who had five 3-pointers in regulation, got his only points in overtime on the off-balance layup with 1:18 left and added the free throw for a 91-85 lead.

Adam Flagler had 27 points for East Region No. 1 seed Baylor (27-7), which was 1-of-11 shooting in overtime. James Akinjo had 20 points while Jeremy Sochan had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

All-Atlantic Coast Conference power forward Bacot had 15 points and 16 rebounds for North Carolina. After missing three of four free throws in the final 38 seconds of regulation, he made three of five in overtime.

The Tar Heels won as a No. 8 seed over a top seed for third time. They did so on the way to the Final Four in 2000, 10 years after after beating top-seeded Oklahoma when Davis was a player for Dean Smith.

Baylor lost in the second round for the second time in the last three NCAA tourneys. The Bears, who fell to top-seeded Gonzaga in the round of 32 three years ago, were trying to match the biggest comeback ever in an NCAA Tournament game.

Manek, the graduate transfer from Oklahoma of the Big 12, was ejected with 10:08 left after his left elbow to the face of Sochan as they were battling underneath the Baylor basket. Manek had just drained a 3-pointer that put the Tar Heels ahead 67-42.

With Manek out, and Caleb Love fouling out soon after that, the Tar Heels had 10 turnovers as Baylor turned up the pressure and made a furious rally.

The Bears got within 76-73 on a three-point play with 1:48 left by Akinjo, who had another one with 16 seconds left to tie the game at 80-80. North Carolina had one more shot, but Davis’ 3-point try hit off the front of the rim.

Baylor scored 11 straight points in less than two minutes after Manek’s ejection. Sochan made the second free throw before having an assist on a layup by Flagler, who then had consecutive 3s off UNC turnovers. The Bears moved within 67-53 when Akinjo hit two free throws after Bacot was called for a technical foul as the two tumbled to the floor.

Things got testy midway through the first half, and Sochan got a technical foul when he appeared to lock his legs together and almost pull Bacot to the floor with him. Love made both free throws, Manek drilled a 3-pointer off an inbound pass and Davis then added a breakaway 3 off a turnover for a 24-10 lead.


North Carolina: With ex-coach Williams in Dickies Arena, which is less than 100 miles from Baylor’s campus, Davis scored the Tar Heels’ first eight points in an 80-second span after the Bears had a quick 4-0 lead. North Carolina never trailed again. The only tie was just before the end of regulation.

Baylor: The Bears outscored North Carolina 38-13 over the final 10 minutes of regulation. They couldn’t finish off matching the biggest comeback victory in NCAA tourney history. BYU overcame a 25-point first-half deficit to beat Iona in a First Four game in 2012.


North Carolina will play either UCLA or Saint Mary’s in the Sweet 16.


More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25