Coming off of a tough loss on Saturday at home at the hands of Duke, the Virginia Cavaliers had to flush that loss quick because they were facing a road trip to eighth ranked North Carolina. This was a back and forth game that was tied in the last couple minutes and it saw the Tar Heels lose some key players throughout the game.
The first half was very back and forth, with the Cavaliers shooting 56.5%, but struggling to separate from the Tar Heels, who only shot 35.5% during the half. The reason for this was because the Tar Heels were able to badly out rebound Virginia, which lead to them taking eight more shots during the first half. Despite the decisive rebounding edge North Carolina had, Virginia was able to take a 36-29 lead into the half after a late 9-4 run.
In the second half Virginia briefly got the lead up to eight points, 40-32 after Ty Jerome made a pair of free throws, but North Carolina quickly bounced back and after a Cameron Johnson layup with 14:13 left in the game they actually took the lead, 44-43 and they were able to get that lead up to seven, 53-46, with just under nine minutes left.
After that stretch though it was all Virginia. They battled back and Ty Jerome tied the game at 55 on a three with 6:12 left and from then Virginia went on a 14-6 run to win by a final score of 69-61.
The game was tied at 59 with 3:29 left when Coby White threw up a prayer at the end of the shot clock and it actually went in, but after further review it ended up being still on the tip of White’s fingers when the red lights showed and it ended up being a shot clock violation.
Jay Huff made a layup with 3:12 that gave Virginia the lead for good.
For Virginia, De’Andre Hunter and Kyle Guy each went for 20 points, while combining to go 8/12 from three. Ty Jerome also chipped in with 15 points and 11 assists. Kihei Clark moved into the starting lineup for Virginia and while he didn’t fill up the stat sheet, he did finish with three steals, which proved to be big as Virginia was much better defensively on the perimeter in this one than they were on Saturday against Duke. Clark moving into the starting lineup meant that Mamadi Diakite moved to the bench, and he was very productive off the bench, going for six points, but more importantly, blocking four shots.
Virginia’s stout defense and efficiency on offense (11/20 from three, and 16 assists to 10 turnovers) was the reason that Virginia was able to overcome North Carolina out rebounding them 38 to 27 and pulling in 16 offensive rebounds.
In Virginia’s quest for a number one seed this was a huge win after their loss Saturday against Duke. It also keeps them right in the race for the ACC regular season title.
North Carolina is coming out of this game with some concerns after Nassir Little had to leave after playing just two minutes and Cameron Johnson did leave the game with an ankle injury, although he did come back just a few minutes later.