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Heel Tough Blog: Virginia Recap

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Carolina was looking to bounce back after Wednesday’s loss at Notre Dame, and they did so in a big way earning a 74-58 win over Virginia, to improve to 11-4, and 3-1 in the ACC. The win over Virginia snapped a seven-game losing streak, the second-longest such streak to the Cavaliers, and the second longest to a single ACC opponent, since the inception of the conference. Armando Bacot was sensational, as he scored a career-high 29 points, and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds, making it just the second ever 20 point, 20 rebound performance in the history of Smith Center, joining Sean May as the only other player to do so. Brady Manked add 19 points, on 7-13 shooting, including going 5-9 from behind the arc, and Caleb Love produced 16 points and made 4-9 of his three-point attempts. For the game, Carolina shot 47% from the field, 44% from behind the arc, as they enjoyed as much offensive success as any team has against Virginia this season. As great as Carolina was offensively, they won this game with their defense, holding the Cavs, to 45% shooting. In Wednesday’s loss to Notre Dame, Carolina never made the Irish uncomfortable, and that’s why they had so much offensive success. Tonight, Virginia never got into any constant rhythm offensively, as Carolina was active from the tip on the defensive end of the floor. When Carolina competes on the defensive end of the court like they did today, you can see the potential of this team, this season.

It was a night and day performance from Wednesday for Carolina today, as they stay unbeaten at home this season. The challenge will be for Hubert Davis, and this staff to bottle up this energy, and make it a constant in every game the rest of the way. That challenge should be taken head on, because when Carolina plays with the energy, effort, and toughness their head coach demands, this team is more than capable of not only playing with the nation’s best but beating the best that college basketball has to offer.

A lot of good things happened on the court for the Tar Heels on both ends of the floor, as you can put today up there with the best they have played this season. Today the team competed, and played with a competitive spirit that we should appreciate because today resembled the Carolina Basketball, we have come to love, and expect over the last 60 years. Here’s what stood out from today’s win over Virginia:

  1. Armando Bacot: Make that six straight games with a double-double for Armando Bacot, and his 11th in 15 games this season. Bacot scored 29 points, on 12-18 shooting, while going 5-7 from the charity stripe. He grabbed a new career-high 21 rebounds, including 9 offensive rebounds, the most since Kennedy Meeks had 10 at Clemson back in 2017. In the second half, Bacot was the only UNC player to make a two-point basket, as the offense ran through, as it always should, with Bacot up to the task, it makes it easier to do just that.

  2. Caleb Love: As great as Armando was, the difference maker early on, was the engagement of Caleb Love, who was more ready to play, as opposed to the other night. He scored 16 points and made some tough, three-point baskets. He also handed out 5 assists, as opposed to 1 turnover, to make it a complete performance for him today.

  3. Assists: The biggest reason Carolina’s offense was functioning at a high level, was that they moved the ball the way you have to against Virginia. UNC had 19 assists on their 28 made baskets, opposed to just 9 turnovers. When this team spreads the love and takes care of the ball, this already efficient offense goes to another level.

  4. Rebounds: Behind Armando Bacot, Carolina out-rebounded UVA 36-28, including grabbing 11 offensive rebounds. This allowed Carolina to control the tempo as well as they have in recent memory against the Cavaliers. Their 14 second-chance points, were a backbreaker for Tony Bennett’s squad.

  5. Points in the Paint: Both teams had 30 points in the painted area, but when you remember that UVA entered the game, only allowed opponents to make 14 two-point field goals, Carolina feasted all day inside.

Up Next: As of now, Carolina isn’t scheduled to play again until next Saturday at home against Georgia Tech. With the Virginia Tech game that was supposed to be played back in December being postponed, this could be a week where the league office may make schedule changes, but there’s not been word of that happening as of now.

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