UNC stakes claim as early front-runner for ACC’s second-best
Virginia entered Saturday afternoon’s ACC tilt in Chapel Hill against North Carolina riding high from a two- game ACC road winning streak. Carolina, not much to go on, after a lackluster loss at Notre Dame Wednesday.
Final from the Dean Smith Center: UNC 74, Virginia 58.
Leading 31-25 at intermission, UNC used a monster second-half performance from Armando Bacot, who scored 17 of his game-high 29 points single-handedly dismiss UVA.
The last time the Tar Heels managed to beat Virginia, in 2017, they proceeded to win a national championship. That might be a stretch to expect those results from this year’s Carolina roster, but for now UNC played like the second-best team in the ACC.
UNC dictated not only the style, but the pace against Virginia, unlike their last outing at Notre Dame. But perhaps the biggest difference in the contest was simply Virginia had no inside presence to contest Bacot.
Bacot finished with 29 points and 21 rebounds. What allowed Bacot almost total control of the paint was the outside shooting of Caleb Love, who scored 16 points on the day, 12 of which came from behind the arc.
Bacot, a Richmond native, posted career highs that helped UNC end its seven-game losing streak to Virginia. The last player to enjoy a 20-20 double-double against UVA was NBA Hall-of Famer Tim Duncan for Wake Forest in 1997, who finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds.
Cavaliers have no answer for UNC tall timbers
Carolina’s frontcourt of Bacot and Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek combined for 48 points on a collective 19-of-31 from the floor. The duo scored the first 15 points for the game for the Heels, each playing in excess of 30 minutes. Manek had five three-pointers and added five assists.
Carolina effectively stretched the Virginia pack-line
The crisp UNC outside shooting opened the lane against the UVA pack-line defense, which typically clogs the middle making it very difficult to score inside the paint on the Cavaliers.
UNC played to its personnel. The fast-paced Tar Heel offense took full advantage of this and handled the UVA double teams effectively using good spacing to find the open shooters. For the game Carolina made 11 3-pointers.
Carolina shows Virginia some Love
Sophomore guard Caleb Love provided UNC the perfect antidote to beat the pack-line. Love finished the game with 16 points and four threes and contributed five assists.
Pack-line takes time
With back-to-back wins over Syracuse and Clemson, Virginia showed promise that the first-year players were getting more comfortable in the pack-line defensive scheme. Not as good of results Saturday against UNC. Becoming totally efficient in the pack-line takes minutes. Shedrick, Gardner and company need to be on the floor.
UNC presented considerable challenges for UVA with the strong inside play of Bacot and Manek combined with the outside shooting of Manek and Love. That’s not what the Cavaliers will see often in ACC play this season.
Home sweet home for Virginia?
After a three-game road trip from north to south in the ACC, the Cavaliers return home to the friendly confines of John Paul Jones Arena on Wednesday to battle Virginia Tech.
But wait, JPJ has not been that hostile for opponents this season. Virginia has lost three times this season at home. Hopefully the Hokies will bring out the beast in JPJ and the Cavaliers.
Story by Scott German