This past Monday, the Virginia Cavaliers’ defense clamped down on the North Carolina Tar Heels for a huge 53-43 win. Virginia’s dominance on defense under Tony Bennett has been well documented, but the performance against the Tar Heels could be the best to date.
The Cavaliers held UNC to only 43 points, which is the fewest North Carolina has scored in a game since 1979 — before either the 3 point line or the shot clock were introduced into college basketball. The 43 points were the fewest of any top-10 team in over two years. The last time Virginia had limited a ranked team to a score that low was 20 years ago when they beat No. 18 Clemson 61-37 on January 11, 1995. The Hoos have held a team to 43 points or less 32 times in the Bennett era. However, last night was the first time UVA had done it against a top-40 offense: North Carolina is the fourth-ranked offense in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating.
The second half was particularly impressive for the Cavaliers’ defense. Virginia held UNC to just 20 points in the half on 27.6% FG shooting. The Hoos blocked six shots in the half and only allowed four points on 1-of-11 shooting in the final nine minutes of the game. The 20 points was the fewest UVA has allowed in a second half since the Yale game earlier this year on November 20.
As Virginia turns towards the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, the Hoos will need to find a way to sustain the offensive output they’ve found in Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and others, without losing the momentum they re-established against the Tar Heels this week.