While the Cavaliers as a team couldn’t keep up with the pace set by the hot-shooting Tar Heels (17-8, 7-5) in the second half, Joe Harris kept things interesting as he went shot-for-shot with Hairston.
“Hairston and Harris today were terrific,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “But Joe, he scored in some different ways. Obviously, he shot the ball well, got to the lane off the dribble — it was a good individual performance”
Harris also had a career high in points and finished the night with 27 points. He was 10-of-13 from the floor and four-of-six from deep.
The Hairston-Harris shootout reached its most enticing point in the final five minutes of the game as the Tar Heels were pulling away.
Both players had 22 points when Hairston drained his sixth 3-pointer of the game and gave UNC it’s biggest lead at 18 points. Less than two minutes later Harris dropped in a two, but Hairston responded by attacking the rim and drawing a foul.
Hairston, who was seven-of-eight from the free throw line, made both of those attempts.
The competition between the two sharpshooters was just a part of the bucket trading that defined much of what was an exciting game.
Though Hairston has started two games in a row now and had career nights in both of those games, UNC coach Roy Williams was still tight-lipped about his plans moving forward.
“If you score 29 points, that’s not a very good reason to keep you in the game,” Williams said with a sarcastic smile.
Hairston, though, is making the most of it while he’s on the floor and taking a more aggressive approach.
“Knowing I’m in the starting lineup now I don’t get the chance to spectate other teams,” Hairston said. “But now I just know that I have to come out with an intensity to compete with the other team and find out what their weaknesses are and contribute against it.”
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