MEN'S BASKETBALL: No. 23 Virginia 53, No. 5 North Carolina 43

UNC men's basketball struggles offensively, falls to Virginia 53-43

CHARLOTTESVILLE The No. 5 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell 53-43 to No. 23 Virginia on Monday night in Charlottesville. UNC hasn’t beaten UVa. on the road since 2012. Also, North Carolina's 43 points tonight were the fewest points scored since 1979.

What happened?

A whole lot of ugliness, and that goes for both teams. UNC opened the game on a 7-0 run, but then Virginia’s vaunted defense started firing.

Double teams, poking the ball away, tough rebounds — the Cavaliers were nearly impassable on defense, leading to 12 first-half turnovers. Just for comparison's sake, that’s as many as UNC has had in any of its last seven games.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s usually stagnant offense found life with guard Kyle Guy’s deep shooting. Guy buried three 3-pointers, including one fadeaway banked off the glass, to lead all scorers with nine at the half.

After halftime, it was more of the same for the Tar Heels. UNC cut the UVa. lead to one point midway through the second half, but a stretch of three and a half scoreless minutes soon after left the team playing catch-up until the final buzzer sounded.

That desperation style of play further bottomed out when Virginia’s offense picked up again. The Cavaliers started banging 3-pointers — London Perrantes had three in the second half — late in the shot clock to minimize UNC’s touches and grow their own lead.

Who stood out?

For Virginia, Guy’s offense was a buoy when everything else wasn’t working. The first-year guard dropped five of his seven shots from behind the arc and led both teams in scoring with 17 points.

Meanwhile, Joel Berry was one of UNC’s only offensive weapons. The junior point guard scored 12 points, but with few other contributors, even his timely offense wasn’t enough.

The team’s starting big men only combined for eight points, leaving the majority of the scoring load for UNC’s guards. But against a Virginia team that limits possessions, no UNC got enough chances to carry the offensive burden.

When was it decided?

In the last five minutes of the game. While UNC was able to cut Virginia’s lead to 40-39 midway through the second half, North Carolina was never able to pull back on top.

Then, with about five minutes left to play, the Tar Heels went completely ice cold. They missed their final seven field goal attempts, and they didn’t score a single point in the last two and a half minutes.

Why does it matter?

Although the Tar Heels have already clinched the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC tournament, they’ve yet to win the ACC regular-season title outright. With Monday’s loss to the Cavaliers, UNC now sits at 13-4 in conference play — just one game ahead of Florida State, Notre Dame and Louisville. If UNC beats Duke in its regular-season finale, it will still win the conference outright. But if not, the Tar Heels are likely to share the title with one of those three teams.

Where do they play next?

The Tar Heels will wrap up the regular season Saturday night against No. 17 Duke at the Smith Center at 8 p.m.

@BrendanRMarks

sports@dailytarheel.com

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