North Carolina hasn't been held to 43 points since before the shot clock
Virginia shuts down UNC's high-powered offense for its best win since early Febraury
North Carolina had won four straight and captured at least a share of the ACC regular-season championship. The Tar Heels had a chance to claim that outright league title against Virginia in Charlottesville on Monday night, but that opportunity faded along with UNC’s efficient offense in a 53-43 loss.
The setting wasn’t ideal for Roy Williams’ group: the next-to-last game in a tough final stretch of games, a Saturday-Monday turnaround and the final test before the highly anticipated rematch with Duke in Chapel Hill. Williams values the regular-season crowns -- “that’s one way to get a banner up,” he says -- and brought in a team that’s now in the No. 1 seed discussion for the NCAA Tournament. But it didn’t take long for Virginia to establish dominance with its defense and set North Carolina down a familiar path to defeat.
It’s the worst loss for North Carolina since getting beat by 15 at Miami on Jan. 28. In that game, North Carolina had just 22 points at halftime, the lowest mark of the season. Virginia held the Tar Heels to just 23 before halftime, and got 18 of its 27 first-half points off 12 turnovers. It’s also the fourth-lowest scoring total (43) in the ACC era.
No one this season has scored more points off North Carolina turnovers than Virginia did, and that inability to take care of the ball allowed the Wahoos to make up for the gap in offensive ability between these two teams. It’s not realistic to expect UNC to play so poorly in the ACC tournament, NCAA Tournament or even against Duke on Saturday night, but it’s a good sign for Virginia -- particularly heading into the postseason -- to see their defensive effort power take down one of college basketball’s top teams.
Isaiah Hicks’ inability to stay on the floor is a problem
Isaiah Hicks missed the first game against Duke earlier this year with an injury, but since he has returned he hasn’t gotten to see a lot of time on the floor because of foul trouble. The senior big man has been whistled for four fouls in four of the last five games. Not only is the constant foul trouble limiting Hicks’ minutes and opportunities to contribute down low, but it’s also impacting his ability to get into the flow of a game.
Getting Hicks back in the lineup for Saturday’s rematch with the Blue Devils changes the math a little bit with the matchups, but he’s not going to be able to offer an advantage if he can’t stay on the floor.
Kyle Guy is going to frustrate the ACC for a couple years
Virginia got a great performance from Kyle Guy, a freshman talent that’s sill most notable for his hairstyle. Guy led all scorers with 17 points, knocking down five 3-pointers and letting his man bun (or guy bun) flourish on the floor. While other ACC fan bases will soon realize the frustration that Guy can inspire with his sharp-shooting ways, Virginia fans were eating it up.
Top Gun may have been released in 1986, but these UVA students have started a Kyle Guy fan movement with the “Top Bun” Tom Cruise outfits.
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