The Virginia Cavaliers simply crushed the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday night at the Dean Dome in a 75-60 decision that really didn't feel that close in the second half. The Heels, who tied but never gained the lead, have now lost five of their past seven games, while the Cavaliers picked up their fourth ACC win. At 4-2 in the ACC, the Cavaliers have already matched Dave Leitao's 2008-09 squad.
It was only the Cavaliers' sixth win in Chapel Hill over the past 99 years, but it was an emphatic one to say the least. The Cavaliers opened up with a strong 35-30 half, but as all of Wahoo Nation knows, this means absolutely nothing (and really, this applies to any team, any game in the ACC). I would pay good money, however, to hear what head coach Tony Bennett had to say in the locker room at the half, because the 'Hoos came roaring out in the second half to blow the game open with a 18-2 run.
"They're a good basketball team," UNC head coach Roy Williams said. "They share the ball; it looked like some of our teams from past years."
It's difficult to name the star of the evening. Sylven Landesberg put up a season-high 29 points, and is one of five players to have put up 20 or more points against Carolina this season (VT's Malcom Delaney (26), GT's Iman Shumpert (30), Clemsons' Demontez Stitt (20), Wake's Ish Smith (20)).
"My teammates were fooling around with me before the game - they said this was like the Garden, you've got to come and show up here," Landesberg said. "I definitely took that to mind, and tried to show off a little bit."
But Landesberg, who remains the only player in the conference to score in double digits every game this season (in fact, he's scored at least 18 points in each ACC game this season), wasn't the only one wit a big night.Sammy Zeglinski scored an ACC career high with 19 points and picked up a season-high four steals. Every field goal today for him, five of them, came from beyond the arc, as he shot 5-8 from long-range.
Mike Scott also contributed heavily to the offense, putting together 11 points and 5 rebounds. Scott is shooting 100% from beyond the arc (2-2, both over the past two games). I don't know when Virginia started trying to block shots, but Jerome Meyinsse had a career-high three blocks, with Landesberg and Scott each contributing another. Freshman starter Jontel Evans had 4 points and a career-high 6 assists in 31 minutes in the night's efforts.
As a team, Virginia shot 51.92% and held North Carolina to just 35.71%. UNC's 60 points is the lowest scoring output of the season for them. Roy Williams emptied out the bench twice to replace his starters, once arond the 17:00 mark of the second half in an attempt to jump start his players, and once near the end while raising the white flag.
This is a great win for a Virginia squad who had just dropped an onvertime contest at home to Virginia Tech, a game the Hoos were leading by 10 points in the final 3 minutes of regulation.
"That was significant because that was a real bad loss to our in-state rival," Coach Bennett said. "A lot of teams would probably hang their head and go into a situation like this and not fight. I said, 'I want you to be different' and I thought they were. Sylven was terrific offensively. He was special. Sammy made some big shots. It helps when you got some guys making plays. That was significant for us to bounce back. I think it revealed a lot. It took away the sting of that game. Our guys were ready to play and I was happy to see it."
"Calvin Baker gave us a good lift, Jerome defensively was terrific. The right plays happened at the right time. There wasn't really a drop off because we have kind of played in spurts a lot of our games."
Bennett is right, and that has raised a lot of concerns for Wahoo Nation. Why does our team play in such dramatic spurts seemingly every game? Many of Virginia's games -- especially the losses, have been in a game of droughts and runs. It will be interesting to see how Bennett can motivate the team to play an active 40 minutes each game.