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The Daily Tar Heel

Recap: North Carolina basketball falls on the road to Virginia, 56-47


First-year guard Cole Anthony (2) attempts a free throw during the first half against UVA at John Paul Jones Arena on Dec. 8, 2019

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – In a second straight poor offensive outing, the No. 7 North Carolina men's basketball team (6-3, 1-1 ACC) fell to No. 5 Virginia (8-1, 2-0 ACC), 56-47, on Sunday. The Tar Heels sank just one three-pointer and shot 37.8 percent from the field in the loss.

What happened?

The first four-minute segment of the game effectively set the tone for the rest of the day. 

At the first media timeout, which came at the 15:40 mark of the first half, North Carolina led 2-0 with the only bucket coming from junior forward Garrison Brooks. To that point, the two teams were a combined 1-10 from the field with six turnovers.

The next four minutes weren't much better; the Cavaliers' first points didn't come until the 14:38 mark with a trio of Mamadi Diakite free throws, and with 11:37 to go until halftime the teams were tied at five.

Back-to-back triples from Virginia woke the crowd and helped open up a (seemingly insurmountable) seven-point lead before guard Leaky Black answered with a layup on the other end.

Later, another trey from Diakite stretched the lead to 17-9; forward Armando Bacot temporarily quieted the crowd with a dunk on the ensuing possession.

Though the Cavaliers kept up the stifling defensive pressure, UNC was able to string together a few scores before halftime to stay in it. At the break, Virginia held a 24-18 lead, with nine of the Tar Heels' points coming in the final 5:03 of the period. First-year guard Cole Anthony led the way with five first-half points, but was just 2-9 from the floor and missed both of his three-points attempts.

UNC's first 13 points of the second half came from the combination of Black, Bacot and Anthony – all underclassmen – but at the 12:04 mark, North Carolina trailed 39-31.

The Cavaliers were able to hold the Tar Heels at bay, then an 8-0 spurt which included six free throws stretched the lead to 12 with 7:49 to play.

North Carolina would only score one point, a free throw by Jeremiah Francis in his first game as a Tar Heel, in the next six minutes and seven seconds of action. By the time Brooks sank a pair at the charity stripe, UVA held a 51-38 lead with 4:29 to go and the remainder of the game was a formality.

Who stood out?

Though he was expected to be out with an ankle injury, Bacot was a surprise start for North Carolina and went on to post 11 points.

Anthony added a team-high 12 points on the day, though he shot just 4-15 from the field and committed six turnovers.

When was it decided?

Against perhaps any other opponent, a 12-point deficit with less than eight minutes to play could have been erased. But with Virginia's defense holding strong all day, it was hard not to feel like the game was all but in hand. To that point, North Carolina was just 14-39 from the field and had made just one three-pointer.

Why does it matter?

Coming off of a 74-49 loss at the hands of Ohio State, North Carolina again struggled mightily to put the ball in the hole, making just 17 of 46 shots and shooting 7.7 percent from deep. 

Crucial questions about UNC's ability to generate points – Roy Williams' squad has yet to eclipse 80 points this season – persisted against one of the best defensive teams in the country.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will return to Chapel Hill and face Wofford in a rare home game in Carmichael Arena next Sunday at 4 p.m.

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