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Heel Tough Blog: Virginia Tech Recap

The San Diego Union-Tribune

It wasn’t pretty, but Carolina earned a much needed 78-68 win at home over Virginia Tech, to snap a two-game losing streak. Carolina shot just 37% from the field, but they were 10-25 from behind the arc, to make every bucket count. All 5 starters were in double figures, led by Caleb Love’s game-best 22 points, Armando Bacot recorded his 10th straight double-double, as he scored 14 points, and grabbed 19 rebounds, before fouling out late in the second half. Defensively, Carolina made the Hokies earn every bit of their 68 points, even though they shot 47% from the field, and 39% from behind the three-point line. After back-to-back disappointing defensive efforts from last week, it was nice to see this team respond on that end of the court tonight.

The Tar Heels stay unbeaten at home, with tonight’s win, and with two more games in the Dean Dome this week, this stretch might be what ultimately saves Carolina’s season. The win improves their record to 13-6 overall, and 5-3 in conference play, with 12 games left to go in the regular season. They entered tonight, as an 11 seed in the latest 2022 NCAA Tournament Bracketology predictions, done by Joe Lunardi from ESPN. They’ll need to sweep the rest of the week, to keep themselves solidly in the field of 68.

These are the types of wins that coaches love because even though you won, you also didn’t play at your best. Carolina had games like that early on in the season, but it was their offense carrying them to shootout wins, over mid-major opponents. Tonight, it was their defense that controlled the game, as the Tar Heel offense struggled to be efficient once again. For a team that has struggled so much at times to play average defense, this performance will go a long way for their confidence in that locker room.

  1. Armando Bacot: Who knows if Bacot ends up winning the ACC Player of the Year award or not, but one thing is for certain, Bacot has established himself as a dominant force, that’s going to be tough to keep him from taking over games. He scored 12 early points tonight, as he made his first six field goals. While he finished just 1-12 the rest of the way, Bacot still was able to control the game on the glass, as he finished with 19 rebounds.

  2. Balanced Offense: It wasn’t their best showing, but UNC out 5 players in double figures for the first time all season long. Those 5 players were tonight’s starters, and they needed every ounce of it they could get, as they were without Dawson Garcia, who was dealing with a family illness. After shooting just 21% on Saturday night at Wake Forest, UNC responded with a 10-25 shooting effort tonight, from behind the arc.

  3. Free Throws: The best way to make up for a rough night from the field, is to make them count at the foul line, which Carolina did going 2-26, which is 85%. Love and Davis were attacking tonight, going 9-11, and 8-9 from the free-throw line respectively.

  4. Rebounding: Tonight felt like a Roy Williams game, as Carolina just pounded the glass, as they out-rebounded Tech 43-32, including 16-5 on the offensive glass.

  5. Turnovers: Had the Tar Heels turned it over like they are prone to do, this game may have had a different result. Instead, they committed just 7 turnovers, which allowed them to still control the pace of the game, despite not making shots.

Up Next: It’s another 48 turnarounds, as Carolina will be back in action on Wednesday night, against Boston College in the Smith Center. The game will tip at 7 PM, on RSN.

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