The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday March 26th

UNC men's basketball earns first Quad One win of season in 71-63 victory over No. 6 Virginia

UNC senior forward/center Armando Bacot (5) defends the ball in the men’s basketball game against UVA in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.
Buy Photos UNC senior forward/center Armando Bacot (5) defends the ball in the men’s basketball game against UVA in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

Led by a 3-point shooting barrage in the first half, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (18-11, 10-8 ACC) defeated No. 6 Virginia (21-6, 13-5 ACC), 71-63, to earn its first Quad One victory of the season.

What happened?

Facing a tight Virginia pack line defense that forces opponents to shoot from deep, the Tar Heels surpassed their 3-point total from Wednesday’s matchup against Notre Dame by knocking down four triples in the first seven minutes. After struggling with his outside shot for most of the season, graduate transfer forward Pete Nance led the way with eight quick points – including two threes from the left wing – to force a Virginia timeout with UNC leading 18-10 with 12:37 to play in the first half.

Following a brief scoring drought, Nance made another shot from 3-point range to put UNC up 21-12 midway through the half. After playing sound defense for the next few minutes, back-to-back triples from newly-inserted junior wing Puff Johnson and an emphatic slam from senior center Armando Bacot stretched the lead to 13 by the under-four timeout.

Junior guard RJ Davis soon got into the act with six points via an off-the-dribble three at the top of the key and an and-one finish in the paint to put the team up 17. Virginia made a series of baskets to close the gap, but with the game clock winding down, Nance pump-faked, stepped-through, and made another three as time expired to give the Tar Heels a 42-26 advantage at the half.

Virginia scored the first seven points out of the break, but a corner triple from graduate wing Leaky Black momentarily slowed all momentum before another finish in the paint put UNC back up 12 at the first media timeout. However, Bacot soon headed to the bench with his third foul, which allowed the Cavaliers to work inside as they attempted to close the gap.

Bacot returned with 11:25 to play and instantly made an impact on the defensive end — shutting down the paint to help the Tar Heels keep the Cavaliers scoreless for the next five possessions. His fourth foul sent him back to the bench with 8:07 to play, but North Carolina still held a steady 12-point lead.

With Bacot off the floor, Nance became the Tar Heels defensive anchor and recorded two weak-side blocks to disrupt the Cavaliers' offensive rhythm. North Carolina soon led by 16 with under four minutes to play, and although Virginia made a last-ditch attempt at a comeback by cutting the lead to eight at the 1:36 mark, the Tar Heels held on to secure a 71-63 win. 

Who stood out?

Nance led the offensive charge in the first half with 14 points on 5-6 shooting while making all four of his attempts from 3-point range. He finished the night with 22.

Davis stuffed the stat sheet in the backcourt, winding up with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Jayden Gardner paced the Cavaliers with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

When was it decided?

After trailing at halftime in six of their last seven outings, the Tar Heels built a comfortable 16-point lead heading into the break on Saturday.

Despite a push in the second half, Virginia – a team more known for its defensive tenacity than scoring prowess – found itself in a deep hole it couldn’t climb out of. 

Why does it matter? 

The Tar Heels entered the contest shooting just 24.9 percent from deep since Feb. 1 – which ranked 360th in the nation during that span – but were able to drain nine triples in the opening half to establish control.

With the win, North Carolina earned its much-coveted first Quad One win of the season, which could have a positive impact as the Tar Heels make a final push to build a resume worthy of earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will hit the road and head to Tallahassee to face Florida State on Monday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.  


@dthsports | 

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