The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers withstood several punches from the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels to earn a 69-61 comeback win on the road. Virginia led by as many as nine in the first half and trailed by as many as seven in the second half before mounting a furious comeback. With the win, Virginia improves to 21-2 (9-2 ACC), while UNC falls to 19-5 (9-2 ACC).
Ty Jerome finished with a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists — his second of the season — and Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter each had 20 points in the win. Virginia shot 53% from the field and 55% from three, but struggled massively from the line (56%). Lucky for the Hoos, the free throw shooting didn’t doom them.
The Hoos had 10 turnovers in the game, but none in the last 12:24 of the game. “I just said, ‘enough is enough’.” Bennett said of the turnovers during the post game press conference.
North Carolina’s Coby White had 17 points in the loss, and Cam Johnson added 16 points. The Tar Heels shot 35% from the field and 30% from three. UNC was active on the glass, pulling in 16 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second chance points.
Jack Salt got the scoring started with a put back of a miss from Jerome, but North Carolina answered with an offensive rebound of their own and a three from Kenny Williams. He followed with another three on UNC’s next possession as the shot clock expired, putting the Hoos down 6-2. Kihei Clark, who got the start for the Hoos in place of the injured Mamadi Diakite, canned a three to pull within one, then stole the ball off the inbounds pass. He wisely pulled the ball out, getting Guy a look from the corner for the three and the 8-6 lead.
Jerome stepped on the baseline to give Carolina the ball back — Virginia’s first turnover of the game — and White made them pay with a three to put the Tar Heels back on top. Johnson put the Heels up three with a turn-around jumper, but Guy evened the score at 11 with his second three of the game. After a miss from Johnson on the other end, Jerome got his first three of the game — Virginia’s fourth — to give the Hoos a three point lead.
A runner in the lane from Jerome made it 16-11 with 14:14 to play in the first half, and Clark drew a charge on White to get the ball back for Virginia. Despite a strong move to the basket, Clark couldn’t get the friendly bounce and the bucket.
After a two more defensive stops from the Hoos, Diakite got his first bucked of the game after backing down Johnson. Johnson broke a 3:23 scoring drought for the Heels as he went 1-for-2 at the line and cut Virginia’s lead to 18-12 with 12:19 to play in the first half.
There was a scary moment for UNC fans as Nassir Little went down hard and held his knee, eventually walking off the court and back into the locker room. Braxton Key, who drew a foul on Little on the play, made one at the line to put the Hoos back up by seven.
Jay Huff was called for a travel, negating an easy layup, but the Tar Heels didn’t take advantage of a couple opportunities on the offensive end. The Hoos were unable to add to their lead, and Johnson connected on a three to make it 19-15 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half. North Carolina turned the ball over, but Guy’s three missed wide. Brandon Robinson brought the Heels back within one point with a three of his own — North Carolina’s fifth of the half — as Virginia was in the midst of a 3:29 scoring drought of their own.
Hunter’s first bucket of the game came on a dunk with 8:35 remaining, and Clark came up with his third steal of the game on UNC’s next possession. North Carolina’s first points in the paint came from a Garrison Brooks layup, but Hunter answered with a three to put Virginia up by five. Luke Maye and Diakite traded buckets, and Diakite came up with a stop on the defensive end to get the Hoos the ball back.
Brooks was called for a foul under the basket after a miss from Hunter, extending another offensive possession for the Cavaliers. Jerome found Daikite in the lane, where he was fouled by Johnson. Diakite made both, giving Virginia a 28-22 advantage with 5:14 left in the first half.
Another block from Diakite negated Carolina’s fifth offensive rebound of the half, and Hunter made them pay with a three pointer from left center of the lane. White got a runner to go to pull UNC back within seven.
A block from UNC gave the Heels possession, but Guy broke up the fast break with a foul near mid-court. Johnson canned a three after getting just a sliver of daylight, but Clark found Hunter for an easy lay-in to put Virginia up 33-27. Guy was called for an offensive foul, but Virginia got the ball right back on the defensive end thanks to a missed jumper from Williams. One free throw make from Guy put the Hoos up seven, and a Jerome runner in the lane made it nine.
Clark had a shot blocked that led to a run out for the Heels, and Jerome lost his handle on the ball as he tried to run down the clock late in the half. Virginia caught a break when the refs called a shot clock violation as White was on an open breakaway, giving UNC the ball with two seconds left. Williams couldn’t connect on the three-point attempt at the buzzer, sending the two teams into the half withVirginia leading 36-29.
Hunter led the Hoos with 10 first half points, followed by Guy and Jerome with seven apiece. Virginia was hot from the field as they shot 57% from the field and 67% (6-for-9) from three in the first half. Clark added three first half steals, while Diakite swatted three shots.
Virginia turned the ball over seven times in the first half with two charges and two shot clock violations accounting for four of them. The Hoos had 14 points in the paint to North Carolina’s eight as UNC shot just 36% from the field in the first half. Eighteen of UNC’s 29 points came from beyond the arc as they connected for 6-of-15 from three.
Johnson led the Heels with nine points, and the Tar Heels had six second chance points off of six offensive rebounds.
The Tar Heels started with the ball to open the second half, but Johnson couldn’t get his three to fall. Guy attempted a three on the other end with the same result, and White got a friendly home bounce on a three ball that cut Virginia’s lead to four. Jerome found Guy cutting the baseline for an up-and-under acrobatic layup and Jerome corralled the rebound to end UNC’s possession.
On the other end, Jerome drew a foul as Maye crashed into him on a three-point attempt. The third year guard made 2-of-3 at the line to give Virginia a 40-32 lead with 17:45 remaining. An offensive rebound off of a three miss gave Carolina an extended possession, and they made the most of it with a layup from White.
Another offensive rebound off of a badly air-balled miss from White gave Williams a wide open look from three, and he connected to cut Virginia’s lead to three. A miss from Hunter and a dunk from Brooks made it a 40-39 game with 15:39 to play.
Hunter quieted the raucous UNC crowd with a three (assisted by Jerome, his eighth of the game), and Maye missed a jumper on the other end. A bad pass from Diakite to Jerome gave Johnson a run-out bucket with the foul to bring UNC back within one yet again.
A trap fro Carolina forced Clark into a terribly timed turnover, giving Johnson a runout and UNC their first lead since they led 11-8 with 15:41 left in the first half. A miss from Guy gave North Carolina the ball back, and Brooks gave the Heels a three point advantage with 12:53 to play.
White extended the lead to six with his third three of the game, and Key missed a three on the other end. A miss from White gave Virginia a shot at cutting into UNC’s lead, and Hunter ended the Hoos’ scoring drought with a fadeaway jumper to make 49-45. Virginia narrowly missed on corralling the rebound off of a miss from Brooks, but Williams missed a three and Maye tapped it out of bounds.
Key missed a three at the buzzer, and White added two free throw makes to put the home team back on top by six with 9:25 to play. Hunter narrowly missed a three-point play as his shot rimmed out, but he made 1-of-2 at the line to make it 51-46. Johnson pushed the lead to seven with a long two, but Guy answered with a cut through the lane and finish at the rim.
A rebound by Key gave Virginia the ball back, but Diakite’s long jumper missed. Maye somehow got a weird angle shot to fall, and Guy answered with a much needed three to make it 55-51 with 7:26 to play. Virginia’s defense stood tall, forcing a shot clock violation.
Jerome drew a foul on White as he drove the lane and brought Virginia back within three at 55-53 with one free throw make. Johnson turned the ball over and came up limping, but play continued and Jerome tied the game at 55 with a three from the corner.
White found Brooks inside for a layup, giving UNC the two-point advantage until Jerome answered with a right-handed floater in the lane. North Carolina re-took the lead with two free throws from Brooks, and Hunter evened things at 59 with just under four minutes to play.
North Carolina appeared to get a huge boost from an unbelievable three from near midcourt as he heaved up a desperation shot with no time on the shot clock. After an official review, the shot was ruled no basket, giving Virginia the ball with 3:29 to play and the score knotted at 59.
Virginia got a huge bucket from Jay Huff on a dish from Hunter as he finished at the rim through contact. Huff missed the free throw, giving UNC the ball down two with just over three minutes to play. Huff made up for it on the defensive end, altering White’s shot and coming down with a huge rebound.
Jerome couldn’t get his three to fall, but the UVA defense got a big stop as Guy poked the ball free on a pass inside to Johnson (who had just returned to the game) and Huff grabbed the loose ball. A timely three from Guy gave the Hoos a little breathing room at 64-59 before Brooks got a put back with 1:35 to play.
Guy got another three to go, drawing the foul as he did. He couldn’t get the free throw to go — continuing Virginia’s struggles at the line — but gave the Hoos a 67-61 advantage with 1:10 to play. UNC got three shots up with none hitting the rim and Virginia was able to burn more time of the clock. Williams missed a three with 19 seconds left, and Hunter got the rebound. He made both at the line to put Virginia up 69-61 and the Hoos were able to run out the clock for the win.
Next up, Virginia welcomes Notre Dame to John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday.