BLACKSBURG, Va. — For two minutes, North Carolina looked like a defensive team.
Then for five minutes. Then for three.
It wasn't a perfect defensive performance by any standard. But Wednesday, it was enough.
Simply: We guarded" coach Roy Williams said.
We did a better job on the defensive end. We've picked on our defense all year long and I've probably done more of it than anybody" but defensively we were more alert.""
Yes" they gave up scoring runs uncontested baskets and rebounds. Yes" they couldn't stop Virginia Tech's A.D. Vassallo from scoring 25.
But they weren't trying to.
""Basically we were just going to try to rotate" point guard Ty Lawson said. We knew their three main scorers were going to take all the shots" and our main focus was on them.
""A couple times we lost them — they ran one of our plays and got open"" knocked down a couple 3's — but we just played D. I think we played well on defense.""
Those runs are exactly what the Tar Heels expected from this team — or" at least from Vassallo Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen" who combined for 62 of the Hokies' 78 points.
And those three scored all of the Hokies' final 16 — in a five-minute span.
""Last three minutes and 45 seconds we were like" we have to get stops Lawson said. The game was getting close toward the end" and we had to play against the clock and them.""
And as usual" the Tar Heels' offense bailed them out when their defense didn't.
Twice in the second half Vassallo tied the score for the Hokies. Twice UNC answered with a basket of its own" stopped the ensuing VT possession and downed another score just for good measure.
""They score 74 percent of their points" and I think they probably did that tonight Williams said. They're a load to guard" and I feel very fortunate to get out of here with a win.""
And after last week's poor defensive performance against Maryland" Williams and his team were happy — relieved even — with any win on the road particularly one with any defensive gems.
UNC forced the Hokies to call timeout after stifling in-bound passes — twice. Freshman Ed Davis came up with monster blocks that helped preserve the Tar Heel lead twice in a minute late in the game (Davis ended with six). UNC finished with five steals and 18 points off Hokie turnovers.
And most importantly" the Tar Heels could leave Cassell Coliseum feeling good about the defense they played Wednesday.
""I mean" basketball is just a game of runs Davis said. The other team is going to be hot" you're going to be hot.
""You just try to withstand the other team's runs and try to just bounce back.
""We tried to slow them down when they do get hot.""
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.