Heel Tough Blog: ACC Quarterfinals - Virginia Recap
Needing a win tonight to not only advance in the 2023 ACC Tournament, but keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, UNC fell short to Virginia 68-59, and will now wait to see if the selection committee values them as a tournament team or not on Selection Sunday. After leading 7-5 at the under-12 timeout in the first half, Carolina found themselves trailing 25-24 at the half, as turnovers fueled UVA’s offense. Knowing the first four minutes of the second half were going to determine the outcome of the game, Carolina gave up 13 points by the first media break in the second stanza, as they allowed Virginia to score 43 second-half points, and shot 58%. UNC got as close as 2 in the final moments but missed foul shots, and the inability to get stops hindered them from ever retaking the lead, and led to their ultimate demise.
Armando Bacot entered tonight as a game-time decision, and like he’s done so many times over his time in Chapel Hill, Bacot toughed it out, but with 10 minutes left in the second half, he removed himself from the game. Bacot only registered 4 points, and 3 rebounds, as the ankle really took him out of his comfort zone, and made it easier for Virginia to defend UNC.
After shooting 55% from the field last night, and 42% from behind the arc, Carolina shot just 36% from the field, and 30% from behind the arc, as their inconsistent shooting woes were on full display again tonight. R.J. Davis was the best player on the floor for either team tonight, scoring a game-high 24 points, on 8-14 shooting. Caleb Love was the only other Tar Heel to reach double figures, scoring 11 points, on 3-15 shooting, in what could be his final game as a Tar Heel.
After the game Hubert Davis still expressed how proud he was of the effort his team showed tonight, but make no mistake, this was a disappointing result, in what has become arguably the most disappointing season in the history of the program. Davis also declined to say if his team would accept a bid to the NIT, and had a hard time making a case for his team to be considered for the NCAA Tournament, as once again he was left with no words after another puzzling defeat:
Poor Second Halves: Even though Carolina didn’t lead in the second half, Carolina didn’t do enough to ever take control of the game. Of the 13 losses this season, Carolina squandered leads in nine of them. Tonight, they allowed a pedestrian offense to score 43 points, on 43% shooting. Hubert Davis had to go small once Bacot took himself out of the game, and they just couldn’t hold up on either end of the court.
Turnovers: Carolina turned it over 11 times, which led to 14 UVA points. At one point, Carolina was being outscored 13-0 in points off turnovers, as their miscues fueled Virginia’s offense all game long. Both Bacot and Davis committed 3 a piece, which was too much for Carolina to overcome.
Shot Selection: Even though R.J. Davis was the best player on the floor tonight, Caleb Love still took more shots going an inefficient 3-15, compared to 8-14 from Davis.It doesn't make sense as to why Love took more shots, and why Hubert Davis didn’t have the offense run through R.J., but this team has struggled with their shot selection all season long, and tonight it was their undoing.
Bench Production: Or lack thereof. After scoring 23 bench points in the win last night over Boston College, UNC only got 5 bench points tonight. What’s even more frustrating is that Hubert Davis didn’t opt to play either Dontrez Styles or Jalen Washington tonight, instead, he played only D’Marco Dunn, Puff Johnson, and Seth Trimble. The theme all summer long was to develop more depth, and that just didn’t happen, as the team struggled to put away mid-majors during the non-conference season, and had their backs against the wall entering the start of ACC play.
Special Teams: Carolina got outscored in the painted area (28-20), fast break points (11-2), and points off of turnovers (14-2). It’s hard to beat any team when losing all of those categories, let alone a team like Virginia.
Up Next: Carolina now has to wait to learn their fate on Selection Sunday, as the Selection Show is scheduled to start at 6 PM, on CBS.