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In order to produce the kind of season that will be rewarding, North Carolina needs to keep validating its successful outings by turning in some more, coach Hubert Davis said.

So that could be even more vital for the Tar Heels after chalking up their second three-game winning streak of the season.

“They’re building on that,” Davis said.

The next assignment might not look huge when Elon arrives for Saturday night’s game in Chapel Hill, N.C. But for the Tar Heels, it’s another chance to make the strides that will be necessary to navigate future portions of the season.

Since dropping out of the Top 25, North Carolina (6-2) has won against UNC Asheville, then-No. 24 Michigan and at Georgia Tech.

Getting things right defensively was one of the priorities for Davis.

“Prove to people that we can play defense,” he said, particularly pleased with how that came together in the Georgia Tech game. “I thought we guarded better than we guarded all season.”

Putting point guard Caleb Love and RJ Davis on the court at the same time has given the Tar Heels a boost.

“Those are guys who can make shots,” Davis said. “They also can consistently create shots (for others).”

Five North Carolina players are averaging in double figures, led by Love’s 16.3 points per game. Davis contributes 14.3 points per game. Love’s 34 assists and Davis’ 30 are tops on the team. Armando Bacot has five double-doubles, averaging 15 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Elon (2-7) hasn’t defeated a Division I opponent this season, though its schedule has been challenging. There have been losses to Florida, West Virginia, Mississippi, Temple and UNC Greensboro along with a date later this month at currently undefeated Arkansas.

Elon’s most-recent game resulted in last Saturday’s 83-77 home loss to High Point. So it’s a six-game losing streak for the Phoenix, with the opponent scoring at least 74 points in each of those.

“It hurts to not be able to break through and get the result we wanted, but we are going to keep getting better and getting stronger,” Elon coach Mike Schrage said. “We have to learn to put 40 minutes together, and I think that starts with our preparation.”

Missouri transfer Torrence Watson, a senior swingman, tops Elon in scoring with 13.1 points per game.

This is the third game in a series between the teams. North Carolina visited for the first home game in Elon’s new arena in 2018, then the Phoenix played the next season in Chapel Hill. A game slated for last December was scrapped because of COVID-19 protocols involving Elon’s team.

–Field Level Media