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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 11 UNC bests No. 10 Virginia Tech, 103-82, in first top 25 meeting between teams

Coby White

UNC first-year guard Coby White lunges for the ball during the first half against No. 10 Virginia Tech on Jan. 21 at the Smith Center.

In the first ever ranked matchup between the two teams, No. 11 UNC ran away from No. 10 Virginia Tech, 103-82 on Monday night in the Smith Center.

The Tar Heels (15-4, 5-1 ACC) made a season-high 16 3-pointers against the Hokies (15-3, 4-2 ACC) and shot 53.7 percent from the field. They also had 25 assists and forced 16 Virginia Tech turnovers.

What happened?

Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson and UNC’s Garrison Brooks traded blows to start the game. Robinson hit two 3-pointers that were answered by short jump shots from Brooks. By the first media timeout at the 13:21 mark, the Hokies had hit five 3-pointers and extended their lead to 19-13, despite eight early points from Brooks.

Once North Carolina went to its bench, though, the impact was immediate. By mixing in Nassir Little, Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson, UNC forced six Virginia Tech turnovers in just over six minutes of gameplay. But the Hokies still led 22-18 at the under-eight timeout, due in part to the Tar Heels’ 1-12 3-point shooting.

Out of the media timeout, UNC hit four of its six shots from the field, including 3-pointers from Luke Maye and Coby White. Virginia Tech called a timeout at the 4:33 mark with its lead cut to just one point, 29-28. Another 3-pointer from White gave the Tar Heels, once down nine, their first lead of the game with just under four minutes left in the half.

The Tar Heels followed with 14 more unanswered points, including six from White, to extend their run to 20-0 before a Virginia Tech tipin brought the lead to 45-31 at halftime.

The teams traded baskets coming out of the break, with each side scoring 10 points in the first 3:44 of play. An 8-0 UNC run ensued, thanks to 3-pointers from Cameron Johnson and Maye and two free throws from White, to give the team its largest lead of the night at 22 points.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Little gave UNC a 24-point advantage, 80-56, with 8:35 to play. Little had scored 10 of UNC’s last 12 points to extend a lead that had dropped to 17 points.

Following another 3-pointer from Kenny Williams, UNC did not score for almost three minutes before a Maye jumper made it an 85-63 game with 5:39 remaining.

UNC went on a 7-2 run before taking out its starters with 1:33 left in the game and leading, 99-77.

Who stood out?

White led the way with 27 points, including five made 3-pointers. Four other Tar Heels scored in double figures: Little (23 points); Maye (14 points); Brooks (12 points); and Williams (10 points). 

Maye also tied his career-high with four 3-pointers in the victory.

When was it decided?

At the 12:27 mark of the first half, Virginia Tech took a 22-13 lead on a three. For then until halftime, UNC went on a 32-9 run. Leaky Black, Cameron Johnson, Little and Brooks all chipped in with baskets while UNC forced three turnovers during it.

That stretch — which saw North Carolina take its first lead and largest lead — gave the Tar Heels an advantage they never lost.

Why does it matter?

Under head coach Roy Williams, North Carolina was 9-9 when hosting higher ranked ACC opponents in the Smith Center. The team is now above .500 in that category.

The Tar Heels’ win against the No. 10 team in the country also moves them to 9-1 at home.

When do they play next?

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UNC has eight days off before traveling to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech at the McCamish Pavilion on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.

@christrenkle2 | @chapelfowler

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