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The Daily Tar Heel

Recap: UNC loses fifth game in a row in double overtime at Virginia Tech

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UNC first-year guard Jeremiah Francis (13) dribbles the ball in a game against Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. 

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The North Carolina men's basketball team (8-10, 1-6 ACC) lost to Virginia Tech (14-5, 5-3 ACC), 79-77, on a last second shot by the Hokies to give UNC its fifth loss in a row. 

What happened?

North Carolina got off to a hot start offensively, sinking half of its first ten shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to take a 12-8 lead into the first media timeout.

The Tar Heels soon cooled off, though, and the Hokies started sinking a bevy of 3-pointers to grab the upper hand; with 9:45 to go until halftime, Virginia Tech held a 17-16 advantage. To that point, the UNC attack was a balanced one, with five different players on the board and none having more than four points.

By halftime, UNC regained the lead and stretched it to six, 36-30, and North Carolina was 20 minutes away from snapping its losing streak.

At the break, Brooks paced the Tar Heels with 15 points, while graduate forward Justin Pierce added eight and no other player had more than four. For Virginia Tech, forward Landers Nolley II had 12 points midway through the game and a pair of 3-pointers.

The second half saw an even better start for North Carolina, which jumped out to a 44-33 lead in the opening minutes after an Andrew Platek triple and a Pierce hook shot. That was where the lead hovered for the next eight minutes or so; with 11:46 left in the game, UNC was up by nine and shooting 6-14 from deep, a big improvement from past outings.

But a Hokie run, helped by a pair of 3-pointers, got the Cassell Coliseum crowd into the game and slimmed the home team's deficit to four.

At the 7:50 mark, the Tar Heels led 53-48 thanks to Brooks, who got involved with his first points of the half. Hopes of an easy UNC win, however, had now been quashed. This one would come down to the end.

With under four minutes to play, back-to-back VT triples put the score at 59-58, UNC, forcing Williams to call a timeout with 2:51 to go.

It was time for the two teams to trade clutch buckets — or not. The Tar Heels gathered several offensive rebounds, while the Hokies found multiple open looks from deep, but neither team scored for the next two minutes and change, putting sophomore guard Leaky Black at the line with a one-point lead and 19.9 seconds to go.

He made one of two and UNC fouled on the ensuing possession, putting VT's P.J. Horne on the stripe. He made both, tying the game at 60 with 13.7 seconds left.

A Brooks turnaround at the buzzer was too strong, sending the game to overtime.

North Carolina jumped out to a five-point advantage in the extra period, but the Hokies countered with five consecutive points of their own to knot it up. Brooks was then fouled inside and sank both to put UNC back up by two.

With less than 30 seconds left, the Hokies worked the ball inside and got a layup to make it 67-67. 

This time, with the game on the line, a Black 3-point attempt missed the mark, and the teams went to double overtime.

A VT three with a minute left put the Hokies up two before Brooks powered to the rim to tie the game up again. Virginia Tech bullied its way inside to regain the lead, and the Tar Heels had 18 seconds to win the game or force a third extra period.

UNC again found Brooks, who got to work on the block, splayed awkwardly and threw up a prayer that somehow went in, re-tying the game. The Hokies rushed down the floor and, rather than calling a timeout, went right to the rim, tossing up a shot that bounced around the rim and fell with 0.4 seconds to go.

When UNC's Hail Mary pass failed, the Tar Heels were handed their sixth straight conference loss, this one coming in double overtime.

Who stood out?

Brooks had a team-high 28 points for UNC and added 13 rebounds. Pierce finished with 15, while Black had 12 and no other Tar Heel reached double digits.

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When was it decided?

It wasn't until the very final seconds of the second overtime, when Tyrece Radford hit a shot with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, that the game was finally sealed. 

Why does it matter?

The loss was the fifth loss in a row for North Carolina. For the fifth time, Williams was delayed from passing his mentor Dean Smith in all time wins. The Tar Heels are now two games under .500 and just 1-6 in the ACC, the lone win coming in the season opener. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return home to face Miami this Saturday at noon.


@DTHSports |