What UVA Basketball fans need to know about North Carolina
You can never be sure. I mean, Duke-Carolina, sometimes that one can go under the radar.
You had to wonder coming out of the near-miss what the impact would be on UNC, which is uncharacteristically below .500 and facing an at-best Sissyphean effort to try to get into the NCAA Tournament.
We got our answer on Tuesday night.
Wake Forest led by as many as 23 on its way to a 74-57 win over the Heels in Winston-Salem.
North Carolina shot 33.3 percent from the floor, was 1-of-16 from three, had 14 turnovers, seven of them from freshman point guard Cole Anthony, who had 15 points, but was just 5-of-19 from the floor to get them.
The Heels are now 10-14 overall and 3-10 in the ACC. Playing out the string.
But then, they were playing out the string when they had Duke over to the Dean Dome a week ago, and conjured up a nice effort before petering out in that one.
With Virginia (16-7, 8-5 ACC) due in Chapel Hill Saturday night, this could be this Carolina team’s last chance to make something of its season.
Getting to know: North Carolina
UVA won the first matchup between these two teams way back on Dec. 8 in JPJ.
Hard to believe that one was a matchup of Top 10 teams.
Another ugly one: 56-47 ‘Hoos.
It was 6-5 Virginia inside of 9:15 to go in the first half, if you remember, and if you don’t, it’s because you blocked out the bad memories, and I’m jealous that you’ve been able to do that, because I can’t unsee what I saw that day.
(Make it stop! Please, make it stop!)
UVA shot 32.7 percent, committed 16 turnovers, but the Tar Heels were 1-of-14 from three, missed 10 free throws and had 12 turnovers.
That one was the first game in which Virginia junior Tomas Woldetensae had a decent night (3-of-4 from three, including a banked three), and Anthony looked mortal, if even that (12 points, 4-of-15 shooting, six turnovers in 36 minutes).
Since returning from knee surgery on Feb. 1, Anthony has averaged 20.3 points per game, but he’s shooting an alarming 30.6 percent from the floor, and 21.4 percent from three, on 18 shots a game.
He’s not getting to the rim quite as much (19.4 percent of his shot attempts have been at the rim over the last four, versus 22.3 in the nine games he played in November and December).
One thing that has been consistent is his inability to finish at the rim. Anthony is shooting 41.7 percent at the rim this season, which, for reference, Kihei Clark, who is not a projected one-and-done NBA lottery pick, is shooting 43.0 percent at the rim this season, and 38.0 percent of his shots are at the rim, and that dude is 5’9”, not 6’3”.
I like Carolina’s bigs, 6’9” junior Garrison Brooks (14.7 ppg, 8.7 rebs/g, 52.1% FG) and 6’10” freshman Armando Bacot (10.5 ppg, 8.0 rebs/g, 47.4% FG).
Both play like classic UNC bigs: back to the basket, rebounding like hell.
Brandon Robinson, the team’s third-leading scorer (13.1 ppg), is out with a sprained ankle suffered in the closing moments of the loss to Boston College on Feb. 1, as if things can’t get any worse for Roy Williams.
That’s meant more minutes at the two for 6’4” junior Andrew Platek (4.6 ppg, 36.8% FG, 20.8% 3FG), with the first guard off the bench, 6’1” Charleston Southern transfer Christian Keeling (5.6 ppg, 41.6% FG, 24.2% 3FG), taking advantage of the extra minutes coming his way, averaging 14.0 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting over Carolina’s last three.
6’8” sophomore Leaky Black (6.0 ppg, 5.0 rebs/g, 34.4% FG, 28.3% 3FG) gets the bulk of the minutes at three, with 6’7” senior Justin Pierce (5.8 ppg, 4.2 rebs/g, 38.7% FG, 25.8% 3FG) getting minutes at three and four.
How Virginia matches up
Ol’ Roy famously hates going zone, which is good, because just about everybody else has come to the realization that the zone is kryptonite to this Virginia outfit.
That said, you saw the UVA offensive numbers from the first game, and they were indeed offensive, so maybe that doesn’t matter.
6’9” senior Mamadi Diakite (13.6 ppg, 6.7 rebs/g, 46.7% FG, 37.0% 3FG) led Virginia in scoring in the December win over UNC, scoring 12, but he also fouled out and only had three rebounds.
The other starting big, 7’1” junior Jay Huff (8.3 ppg, 6.3 rebs/g, 58.4% FG, 31.4% 3FG) didn’t score in that one, and was so ineffective that Tony Bennett went to 7’0” redshirt freshman Francisco Caffaro (1.7 ppg, 1.5 rebs/g) for 20 minutes and got a nice effort from the kid (10 points, 4-of-5 shooting, seven rebounds).
Kihei Clark (10.3 ppg, 6.0 assists/g, 36.5% FG, 34.6% 3FG) is obviously going to have his hands full checking Anthony, but he’s done that before, and did a good job in the December one-on-one.
Virginia (16-7, 8-5 ACC) at North Carolina (10-14, 3-10 ACC)
Saturday, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
KenPom.com: UNC 57-56 (51% win probability)
ESPN BPI: UVA +0.4 (51.5% win probability)
Story by Chris Graham