The North Carolina Tar Heels kicked off ACC conference play in Virginia against the Cavaliers. UNC coming off their first statement win of the season against then 20th ranked UNLV last week looked to build on that momentum and start off conference play with a win.
Keeping an eye on the rotation, Roy Williams started Desmond Hubert at the center position. Reggie Bullock returned to the lineup after missing the UNLV game with a concussion and was in the starting lineup. P.J. Hairston, Leslie McDonald and Brice Johnson were the first to enter the game off the bench a little less than five minutes into the game. Joel James entered the game about two and a half minutes later.
Hubert seems to be getting more comfortable offensively with his first two touches resulting in points with one dunk and a trip to the foul line. Without P.J. Hairston on the floor the team looked less versatile in the half court, without a player like Hairston who can put the ball on the floor and create this team has to rely on getting an open shooter which didn’t happen early on. When Hairston entered the game he immediately made an impact with the first three of the game for UNC.
The Heels did not defend the three point line well at all giving up four early three pointers to UVA in the first nine minutes shooting 4-5. UNC clamped down defensively and didn’t give up another three in the first half. Neither team was able to get anything going offensively, UNC shot just 8-25 from the field with UVA going 9-24 with the Heels clinging to a one point lead at the break 25-24.
UVA dictated the tempo giving up just two fast break points in the first half. In the half court game point guard Marcus Paige had a tough time setting up his teammates in a position to score the basketball and had a very rough first half with zero assists and zero points. To sum up the first half, UNC had four assists on eight field goals with seven turnovers in the first half.
UNC started the second half on a 9-2 run opening up an eight point lead with nice ball movement and patient offense in the half court before the Cavaliers went on a 10-0 run to recapture the lead. After a hot start for UNC, UVA turned the 10-0 run into a 15-2 run to take a five point lead at the 9:30 mark as they continued to control the tempo. UVAs run was sparked by their three point shooting hitting four more from downtown during the run.
Since the opening 11-4 run by Carolina, UVA outscored the Heels 23-9 to take a six point lead with less than five minutes to play. UNC was not communicating on the defensive end and playing about as bad as they have all year long. UNC did not score with the game within reach during the last three minutes until Hairston hit a meaningless free throw. When the game mattered the most, the Heels fell completely apart in this one allowing a 10-2 run with the score 50-51 the Heels ended up losing 61-52. This marked the first time Virginia has ever defeated the Heels in their home stadium
UNC had a lot of trouble getting the ball in post with Virginia almost daring the Heels to throw the ball in the post all game long. The only player who really did a nice job of positioning himself well for the entry pass in the paint was Joel James, the problem with that was he didn’t know what to do with it once he got the ball.
Reggie Bullock was the lone bright spot offensively for Carolina who had a career high scoring night with 22 points. This marked the third straight road loss for the Tar Heels and yet another match up where they were outworked, out hustled and out communicated. Jay Williams put it perfectly when he said that for UNC to win on the road they need to become a unit, right now he sees five individuals.
Keeping it Heel will have more coverage of exactly what went wrong and how the Heels can turn it around.
Final Score: UNC 52 UVA 61
Up Next: UNC heads home to fact a Reggie Johnson less Miami Hurricanes team on Thursday January 10th.