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Saturday, May 28, 2022

North Carolina ejects Baylor despite blowing a 25-point lead in the second half

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Having blown a 25-point lead in the final 10 minutes of regulation and losing two of their best players in the process, North Carolina seemed on the brink of a stunning collapse.

Somehow, the eighth-seeded Tar Heels stabilized in overtime to eliminate the No. 1 seed from the Southern Region and announce themselves as genuine threats to reach the Final Four.

Rookie guard RJ Davis scored 30 points and delivered a key 3-point play late in overtime to lead North Carolina to an emotionally charged 93-86 victory over reigning national champion Baylor that had to be seen to be believed. The Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16, where they will await the winner of Saturday’s game between Saint Mary’s and UCLA.

What appeared to be a blowout in North Carolina changed with a controversial call with 10 minutes remaining. Brady Manek was controversially called a flagrant foul for 2 and ejected from the game after elbowing Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan in the face as he tried to get into position to grab a defensive rebound.

When Manek got up from the ground with a towel over his head, Baylor instantly found a new life. The Bears increased their defensive pressure and unleashed a 38-13 surge helped by North Carolina guard Caleb Loving fouling out with seven minutes left and center Armando Bacot committing his fourth foul less than two minutes later.

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