For the seventh consecutive time, Virginia has gotten the best of North Carolina, this time winning 60-48, as Virginia continues to prove to be the best team in the ACC. The loss is coming off a wild week off the court for UNC, who had their game against Miami on Monday cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19. That means that this was the first time Carolina was on the floor since last Saturday’s emotional win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game of basketball is all about rhythm, and another week layoff wasn’t good for a young team going on the road against the best defensive team they’ll see all season. Virginia took Carolina completely out of their comfort zone, holding the Tar Heels to just 34% shooting from the field, including an abysmal 13% from behind the three point line. The 48 points are a new season low, and it’s the third straight time in Charlottesville they’ve failed to score 50.
The last time we saw Carolina, they put 6 players in double figures scoring, the first time they’ve done so this season. Tonight their leading scorer was Walker Kessler with 9 points off the bench. Kessler provided a spark in the second half, but he’s not the guy you need leading your team in scoring. UNC was able to dominate the backboards, out-rebounding Virginia 41-29, including 12-6 in the offensive rebounding department, but they only converted that into 13 second chance points, which isn't enough to beat the Cavaliers.
Tonight’s loss doesn’t affect Carolina’s chances at making the NCAA Tournament next month, but they squandered a chance to put a significant win on their resume. We also learned tonight, that while this team has promising young talent, they aren’t ready for the best this conference has to offer:
Missed Opportunities: Carolina was just 13-28 on layup attempts in tonight’s loss. While the Cavaliers entered tonight as the second best, two point defense in the country, shooting less than 50% on shots that are close to the rim is inexcusable. Add in that they only shot 6-12 from the foul line, and it’s clear to see why they lost tonight.
Freshmen Production: Of the 48 points scored tonight, 36 were scored by freshmen, led by Walker Kessler’s 9 points. While you love seeing your young players being able to produce, tonight was a reminder that you need more from your upper classmen, particularly Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks.
Turnovers: Against the best defensive team they’ve seen this season, UNC only committed 8 turnovers. To give themselves a chance to win they had to take care of the basketball, and they did so tonight, despite losing.
Walker Kessler: In just 12 minutes of action, the rookie from the Peach State provided a much needed lift, scoring a career high 9 points, on 3-5 shooting. There was a stretch in the second half that Carolina was even running sets for Kessler, a glimpse of what the future might look like in Chapel Hill.
Up Next: Carolina’s next scheduled game was supposed to be Tuesday, at home against Virginia Tech. That game has been postponed due to a COVID positive in the Hokies program. As of right now, Carolina’s next game is Saturday at home against Louisville as of right now.