Kyle Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring with 16 points, followed by Devon Hall with 15. The Hoos shot 42% from the field and 52.9% from three in the game, and although he struggled with shooting (4 for 14), Jerome was great with the ball as he dished 6 assists with 1 turnover.
North Carolina’s Luke Maye had 20 points to lead the Tar Heels, who shot 40% from the field and 40% from three.
North Carolina took a 5-2 lead out the gate thanks to a jumper by Cam Johnson and a three-point shot from Joel Berry. Virginia responded with an 8-0 run, spurred by two three-pointers by Devon Hall and a steal and dunk by Isaiah Wilkins.
After the dunk by Wilkins, with Virginia leading 7-5, the Hoos kept active hands, forcing Kenny Williams into a desperation heave from almost midcourt. As his shot missed everything and the refs signaled a shot clock, the heavily pro-Wahoo crowd got to their feet.
Virginia led 10-5 at the under-16 timeout, and extended that lead to 12-5 after two free throws by Nigel Johnson. Luke Maye broke Carolina’s 3:37 scoring drought with a three-pointer to pull the Tar Heels back within four. Williams made it 12-10 Virginia after the Heels corralled back-to-back offensive rebounds.
Outstanding defense by Johnson on Berry led to a defensive rebound for the Hoos, and then Johnson connected from the top of the arc for a three-pointer to push Virginia’s lead back to five with 11:32 left in the first half.
North Carolina took a page out of Virginia’s book, tipping rebounds out to get second chance looks, leading to a Williams three. A lay-in by Maye evened the game up at 15 with 9:21 to play, but Johnson hit his second three of the game to give the lead right back to Virginia.
Jerome hit his first three of the game to make it 21-15 in favor of the Hoos, and Maye hit a floater over Wilkins and a three on the next possession to pull the Tar Heels within one. Two free throws from Jerome increased the Cavaliers’ lead to three, and UNC’s Brandon Robinson was called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to Virginia. The Hoos missed on a long two attempt with five on the shot clock, but a Jack Salt tip reset Virginia’s possession.
Back-to-back floaters from Jerome gave the Hoos their seven-point lead back with 4:30 to play, but Maye connected again from three to make it 27-23. A baseline drive by DeAndre Hunter led to two made free throws, but he was called for his second foul of the half on Virginia’s next defensive possession. Maye made one of two, making it 29-24 with 3:09 to play in the half.
Guy hit his first three of the night, then Berry was called for his second foul of the half - an offensive foul - to give the ball right back to the Hoos. Hall connected on two free throws to put the Cavaliers up 10, but Wilkins was called for his second foul of the half and Pinson made both to make it 34-26 with 2:17 to play.
Williams hit a three, UNC’s sixth of the half, pulling the Tar Heels within five once again. Hall missed a three of his own, but Carolina was unable to chip any further into the lead. Jerome’s three attempt nicked off front iron, and Maye made one more free throws to pull back within four points yet again.
Virginia held for the last shot of the half, but Guy’s drive in the lane didn’t fall. The Hoos shot just 37% from the field in the first half, but connected on 60% of their threes (6-for-10) in the first half. Jerome led the way with nine points, with Hall and Johnson chipping in eight apiece. Virginia turned it over just once in the first half, and got six points off of UNC’s six first half turnovers.
Maye led all Carolina scorers with 15 first-half points on 5-for-7 (3-for-3 from three) shooting. The Tar Heels shot 43% from the field and 50% from three, and assisted 10 of their 13 made field goals.
Salt opened the second half with a left handed runner, but a called foul on Jerome gave Cam Johnson two points from the charity stripe. Guy answered with a floater in the lane to make it 38-32, but Wilkins couldn’t get a runner to go and Pinson answered on the other end.
Guy connected on another three, pushing Virginia’s lead back to seven points, but Berry responded with one of his own with three minutes gone in the second half. A dunk by Salt and a jumper by canceled each other out on the scoreboard, but another three by Hall pushed Virginia’s advantage yet again.
On the defensive end, Guy stripped the ball from Pinson after another UNC offensive rebound, and he found Wilkins in the lane for the easy dunk to put Virginia up by nine with just under 15 minutes to play.
Berry hit UNC’s eighth three of the game to make it 48-44 with 12:28 remaining, and a phantom call on Nigel Johnson gave the Heels another possession after a missed basket. Diakite was whistled for a foul, and Garrison Brooks connected on both to make it a two point game.
Guy hit a long two for a little extra breathing room, but a botched save attempt on a rebound between Hall and Nigel Johnson led to a shooting foul and one more free throw make by the Heels to cut Virginia’s lead to three.
Maye finally missed a three-pointer, and a foul on Pinson sent Hall to the line for two with 8:42 remaining. He made both, putting the Hoos ahead 52-47. UNC somehow managed an impressive tip-out on a rebound that gave Berry a good look at a long two, but Guy found open space and took it to the basket for a runner.
Yet another long and true jumper from Guy put the Hoos up by seven once again, and a diving battle for the ball on the other end resulted in a Carolina turnover. Cam Johnson was down for awhile on the play and made his way to the bench to be looked at by trainers.
Jerome couldn’t connect on the next offensive possession, giving Carolina a chance to cut into the lead. Brooks found himself all alone under the basket but completely missed everything. Hunter missed a jumper on the other end - his first shot attempt of the game - but outstanding defense caused the Heels to come up empty as the clock ticked through five minutes left in the half.
Hunter missed another shot attempt but tipped a pass that went to Hall and gave Virginia possession. This time, Hunter connected, despite limping slightly. Maye hit his first bucket of the second half, a three, with 3:16 left to make it 58-52 and keep the Tar Heels within striking distance :16 left to make it 58-52 and keep Carolina close.
The Heels pressed coming out of the time, but Jerome hit a three. It was promptly answered by Berry, making it 61-55. Virginia worked the ball around, leading to a Maye foul on Wilkins with a second left on the shot clock. He made both, putting the Hoos up eight.
Brooks made one free throw, but the Hoos couldn’t connect on the other end and Maye hit a layup with 1:05 left to make it a five-point game. Carolina started fouling, sending Hunter to the line for a one-and-one after Pinson went for a steal. He hit both, pushing Virginia’s lead to seven.
Berry missed a three, the Heels fouled Hunter again, this time making it an eight-point game after going one-for-two. Another miss by the Heels gave Virginia possession and sent Hunter back to the line for another one-and-one with 37.8 seconds remaining. He made both yet again, putting Virginia up 68-58.
Wilkins was called for a foul as Berry shot a three, sending the senior to the line. He made all three, pulling the Heels back within seven points with 31 seconds left. Hall was fouled by Pinson with 25 seconds left and made both. Berry missed a three, but a turnover on Jerome gave the Heels the ball and a layup. Hunter went back to the line with 12.8 seconds left and the Hoos leading by seven. He missed the first and made the second, and the Hoos would win.