The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 9th

Tar Heels Lose, Set Another Record

Virginia overcame a late UNC rally in handing the Tar Heels their 16th loss of the season Tuesday, a new school record.

Ringwald's fictional family in the 1984 classic "Sixteen Candles" sent her character, Sam, into depression when they forgot her 16th birthday.

But Tuesday night at University Hall, UNC reached a 16th milestone that wasn't so sweet -- one they wish people would forget. The Tar Heels lost their school-record 16th game of the season, 73-63 to Virginia. The new dark mark made official what many have speculated since November -- the 2001-02 men's basketball squad is the worst ever for the program, having reached its 92nd birthday.

"Obviously, we play for the tradition and the guys who have played here before, but we can't really worry about it," said guard Adam Boone. "We still think we can salvage some good wins and still play good basketball to close the year."

The Tar Heels (6-16, 2-10 in the ACC) did play good basketball to close the game, as they have the last three games. After trailing by as much as 16 in the second half, this one came down to the final minute, and they trailed by two with 1:47 remaining. UNC outscored the Cavaliers 36-34 in the second half.

In fact, a 20-7 start out of halftime gave UNC a lead, of all things, against No. 15 UVa. (16-6, 6-5). Jason Capel collected a turnover and threw an outlet to Boone, who pushed ahead for a layup and the Tar Heels' only lead, 56-55 with 9:23 left.

"I guess we feel good because we had a shot to win," Capel said. "We had every opportunity to win that game, but we lost."

Lang led the charge with his second straight strong second half. He hit 5 of 6 field goals for 13 of his game-high 19 points.

But out of the gates, Virginia and Roger Mason Jr. were unstoppable. UNC started the game in a man-to-man defense that Matt Doherty quickly pulled out of in order to slow the athletic Cavs.

Mason, 3-of-6 from 3-point range in the first half, hit three transition 3s in a 1:02 span to punctuate a 19-3 opening in the game's first 4:34. Mason has hit 50 of 115 treys (43.5 percent) at home this year, while connecting on just 10 of 46 (21.7 percent) away from University Hall.

Meanwhile, UNC hit just seven field goals in the first half and shot 25.9 percent from the field.

"We got off to a good lead, and subconsciously I think our guys relaxed," said UVa. coach Pete Gillen. "They came back in the second half, chipped away and took a one-point lead. We got tentative and we were fortunate to win."

Right now, UNC is taking anything that resembles a win -- even a 10-point loss -- as something positive to build upon.

And despite the drama involved with this close contest, records continue to fall on this team. In the 1950-51 and 1951-52 campaigns, UNC finished with previous-worst 12-15 records.

Said junior Will Johnson, "Every time we pick up the paper, there's a new record being broken."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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