Tyler Zeller states his case for ACC player of the year.
Coming off the heartbreaking loss to Duke, UNC slogged through a horrible offensive outing to defeat Virginia 70-52. Quite simply, this was a really bad shooting day for the Heels but a stellar day on the defensive end. That and Tyler Zeller was the ultimate difference in this game. The senior came back after taking a beating for two days over the end of the Duke game with 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block . Zeller carried most of the offensive load on the day with Harrison Barnes chipping in 14 points and 11 rebounds. Henson also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. The day for Barnes was a bit of a mixed bag. The rebounding number was really good and Barnes hit his free throws. However Barnes could not finish around the rim and missed several jumpers while struggling at times on the defensive end.
Probably more significant than the contributions from The Big Three were the ones UNC got from the bench. James Michael McAdoo played his best game of the season scoring nine points and pulling down seven rebounds. It was a coming out party of sorts and the first time all season we've seen an extended stint with significant contributions. Stillman White was so good today, it almost has people convinced he can be an effective backup beyond 2-3 minutes per game. Granted White won't do much, if any scoring but he knows the system. The only thing Roy is really asking of him is to not hurt the team. So far, White's presence has been a positive.
Overall it was a good response to the loss on Wednesday. Coming out and blowing the doors of one of the ACC bottom feeders would have been an exercise in venting frustration. Instead the Heels got a ranked Virginia team playing a slower tempo which challenged the defense. UNC answered the bell on the defensive end and despite a poor shooting game, rode Zeller to the win. The one question coming out of this game concerns the three point shooting which has all but disappeared lately. UNC is 2-16 in the past two games which is a trend that needs to change if UNC is to make a serious run here at the end of the regular season into postseason play.