CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The final score aside, No. 7 North Carolina didn't like the looks of its Wednesday night game against Davidson.

It took a career-best 27 points from junior swingman Justin Jackson to keep the Tar Heels in the lead in an 83-74 victory at the Smith Center.

"It has been fun watching this basketball team at certain times this year, but it was not fun tonight," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "It was as frustrating as I can ever remember."

That was because the Tar Heels (9-1) had to scramble to hang on while shooting a season-low 37.7 percent from the field.

"We can do way better," North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks said of the team's play in general.

"We just kind of pulled it out because we were more gifted," Jackson said.

Davidson guard Jack Gibbs poured in 30 points and Peyton Aldridge had 22 points for Davidson (5-3), which lost for the second time in four days.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "They fought for 40 minutes against an incredible team."

A Gibbs 3-pointer with 7 1/2 minutes to play followed by two Aldridge free throws pulled the Wildcats within 66-58. Jackson responded with two 3-pointers across the next three possessions.

Yet Davidson closed to 76-71 with 3:23 left, and Jackson missed a 3-point shot from the wing. The Wildcats, despite their next two shots failing to hit the rim, converted on Will Magarity's dunk to make it 76-73.

North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks sank two free throws with 1:26 left after rebounding his own miss. The Tar Heels regained possession on a held-ball turnover, then an offensive rebound by Hicks led to two foul shots at the 52-second mark, and the upset bid was denied.

Jackson hit a career-high seven 3-point baskets (on 13 attempts) coming off a game in which he scored a season-low eight points against Radford. The 3-pointers were one short of the school record held by six players.

"You see Justin's 3-point shooting and you think that's it," McKillop said of the difference in the game. "It's not. It's those little details (that hurt us)."

Hicks' 13 points and Luke Maye's 10 points (all in the first half) helped the Tar Heels.

"I really think they executed their stuff better than we executed our stuff at both ends of the court," Williams said.

North Carolina played without junior guard Joel Berry, who sustained a sprained ankle during the Sunday romp past Radford. He was wearing a walking boot on his left foot, and his status for this Sunday's home game against Tennessee is uncertain.

Senior Nate Britt started at point guard, but the Tar Heels used three point guards in the game at the same time during stretches with Seventh Woods and Stilman White joining Britt.

Jackson hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Tar Heels sprung to a 32-24 advantage. That gave him 12 points in the half, all on treys.

North Carolina led 42-32 at halftime.

Maye, a sophomore forward, eclipsed his career-high point total of seven shortly after the midway mark of the first half. He also matched his career best with six rebounds before halftime but picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 to play.

There was a delay five seconds into the game when debris fluttered down from the arena ceiling. Davidson subsequently scored the game's first seven points.

North Carolina wiped out a 10-3 deficit with five reserves in the game. The subs departed with the Tar Heels holding a 15-13 lead.

NOTES: Davidson fell to 15-105 against Top 25 opponents. ... North Carolina leads the series 65-11, including a 98-65 home victory last year. ... Davidson senior G Jack Gibbs entered the game seventh nationally in scoring at 23.3 points per game. ... No North Carolina player has scored in double figures every game this season after swingman Justin Jackson's string ended with eight points Sunday against Radford. ... Davidson is off until a Dec. 17 game against Kansas in Kansas City, Mo., where it will complete a season-high stretch of four consecutive games away from home.