In the second half, UNC came out and changed the tone of the game. The Tar Heels started the first half on a 20-7 run, which included a 10-0 stretch. UNC forced Virginia into turnovers thanks to defensive pressure and got open looks around the basket. After eight minutes of play, the Tar Heels led, 49-43.
The game continued to go back and forth from there, as Johnson and White carried North Carolina. With Luke Maye being held mostly in check by the Cavaliers defense and Nassir Little out for the game with an ankle injury, White was yet again the engine of North Carolina’s offense.
Virginia mounted a comeback to close the game, making seven of its last eight field goals, including a 3-pointer by Guy that gave his team a six-point lead with 1:10 remaining. Guy was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw.
Who stood out?
Coming off a 33-point performance in UNC’s overtime win against Miami Saturday afternoon, White yet again drove UNC’s offense. He finished with 17 points, but most importantly jumpstarted UNC when it looked lethargic at the beginning of the second half.
White got to the rim consistently and opened up opportunities for his teammates, including Garrison Brooks, who got going down low in the second half. White did it all, including nailing a 35-foot shot with just under four minutes left that was ultimately called off after the referees ruled a shot-clock violation occurred.
Jerome was the star for Virginia. He finished with a double-double, posting 15 points and 11 assists. He controlled the offense for the Cavaliers and got to the rim when they needed baskets.
When was it decided?
With just under two minutes remaining, Guy knocked down a deep 2-pointer. The basket put the Cavaliers up four points. On the next possession, Guy knocked down a 3-pointer and drew a foul from UNC’s Kenny Williams. He missed the free throw, but the play closed the game out for the Cavaliers.
Why does it matter?
The loss drops North Carolina out of first place in the ACC. UNC is now in a tie for second place in the conference with Virginia, as both teams sit at 9-2. However, Virginia now holds the tiebreaker for ACC Tournament seeding, as the two teams won’t face each other again in the regular season. No. 2 Duke now holds sole possession of first place in the conference, with an ACC record of 9-1.
With matchups with Duke and UNC behind it, Virginia is in strong position in the ACC, but must still travel to Syracuse, Louisville and Virginia Tech. With seven games remaining in conference play, UNC must still play Duke twice and hosts Syracuse and No. 17 Florida State.
When do they play next?
UNC returns to action against Wake Forest Saturday at noon in Winston Salem, then travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke Wednesday night at 9 p.m.