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Virginia comeback falls short in 71-67 ACC Tournament semis defeat to UNC

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers' ACC Tournament run came to an end in the semifinals, as the Hoos fell to 5th-seeded North Carolina 71-67.  A valiant comeback attempt,  led by Malcolm Brogdon's 25 points, came  up short, as the team dug themselves too deep a hole during a sluggish first half.

GAME STATS:

Virginia

North Carolina
Points Per Possession 1.02 1.11
Effective FG% 49.0% 63.1%
Offensive Rebound % 21.9% 28.0%
Turnover % 19.7% 21.2%
FTA/FGA 38.5 64.3%

This game down to two key factors: Virginia played poorly (at least for 30 minute or so), and UNC played great.  UVA quickly fell behind 12-3 behind a rash of early turnovers, and trailed 30-23 at halftime.  Malcolm Brogdon struggled during the first period, shooting 1-9 during the first half.

After halftime, the Hoos struggled to make a dent in the Tar Heel lead.  Every Wahoo run was quickly answered. Virginia closed to with 5 at 32-27, but UNC scored the next 8 points.  UVA brought the score back to 42-36, then Carolina scored the next 5. Trailing 58-48 with 5 minutes to play, Virginia finally made a scoring run and backed it up with stops on the other end.

Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 22 second-half points on 8-9 shooting and completely took over the game during the Wahoo run, drilled a 3, then answered two Marcus Paige free-throws with a layup, then another 3 to bring the game to within 1 point at 61-60 with 3 minutes to play.  However, Carolina once again answered, scoring on consecutive possessions, and bringing the margin to 3.  The Hoos had two three-point attempts to tie, but shots by Justin Anderson and Malcolm Brogdon (on a play reminiscent of last year's game winner at Pitt) rimmed out, and UNC made free-throws down the stretch to win.

Anderson looked more comfortable tonight than in his return to action against FSU, but still has rust to shake off. His wrapped left hand caused a turnover, and he air-balled a 3, though he did come up with a ferocious (and left-handed) block.

Beyond Brogdon, London Perrantes had an aggressive game, finishing with 12 points on 3-7 shooting, and Gill added 12 more. Justin Jackson led the way for UNC, scoring 22 points and shot 4-5 from behind the arc.

More concerning: Despite the exciting finish, the Hoos just didn't come ready to play. UNC had the clear energy advantage, just as Louisville did in the season finale and FSU did at times during the quarterfinals.  In the past, Virginia was able to lean on its defense to weather the storm, but a hot-shooting Carolina team, which made 57% of its 2s and 50% of its 3s, was able to extend a lead that would hold, as they finished at 1.11 PPP.

Now, we wait. The Selection Committee won't be impressed with UVA's 1-2 finish, but the team clearly has the resume of a 1-seed.  However, the team may lose the honor of playing in the East, where more favorable matchups await.