In a season full of heartbreak and disappointment, Carolina added another to the former, with a 64-62 loss to Virginia tonight. The Cavaliers have won successfully in the Smith Center back to back for the first time in program history. Tomas Woldetensae connected on 6 triples, and his final ripped through the nylon with 0.8 seconds left securing a win for UVA, who’s playing for the right to defend it’s national championship. Garrison Brooks led the way for the Tar Heels with an efficient 20 points on 9-14 shooting. There was more of a concerted effort to play through the painted area, and it resulted in a 50% shooting game for Carolina. Cole Anthony added 17 points, but like he has since returning from injury, hasn’t appeared in rhythm on either end of the floor.
When Christian Keeling knocked down three free throws with a little over ten seconds left, to give Carolina the lead it still didn’t feel safe. It’s just been that type of season in Chapel Hill, a rarity for this historic program. You can respect the effort displayed, but ultimately at a place like North Carolina it’s about winning, which this team isn’t doing right now. There were some positives and some negatives from the loss, here are 3 things to take away before they travel to South Bend:
Bigs Played Big: They have to for this team to have a chance. In the first meeting they got out muscled by Virginia, who isn’t known for their physical play. Brooks poured in 20 points, Armando added 8 points, and grabbed half of the teams' rebounds. Anthony has gotten better at utilizing their ability on the offensive end, and it’s not wonder why this team was in position to win.
Un-Timely Miscues: Carolina never had a firm grasp on the game, and while you have to credit UVA, a lot of the blame lies on the Tar Heels. Carolina could never get that critical rebound, or get that stop to ignite a transition chance. Offensively it was a unforced turnover, or a bad shot that led to a easy basket on the other end. This team resembles a team that doesn’t know how to win, and to be fair they don’t.
Missed Freebies: Virginia was 7-8. Carolina? 9-14. In a low possession game like this one, 2 missed free throws almost amounts to a 4 point swing. While it was as bad as it was a week ago against Duke, these are the areas this team needs to excel to give itself a chance in any game the rest go the season.
Up Next: It’s a quick turnaround for the Tar Heels, as they’ll travel to Notre Dame on Monday night. The game is part of ESPN’s “Big Monday” with a 7 pm tip time scheduled.