UNC struggles to stop Malcolm Brogdon and Virginia on one end of the court and is out of sorts enough offensively to give Virginia the edge it needs for a 79-74 win.
It was clear from the start two things were going to happen with regularity. Malcolm Brogdon was going to hit shots no matter who was guarding him and UNC was going to struggle to get consistent offensive execution. The former pretty much remained constant throughout while the latter improved as the game wore on. Still Brogdon was just as hot as Cat Barber on Wednesday night except he didn't cool off after eight minutes. UNC also couldn't find anyone who could really slow him down. Seveteen of Virginia's 38 first half points came from Brogdon.
On the other end of the floor, UNC shows signs of impatience in the half court set. There were rushed shots and forced passes leading to misses and turnovers. Virginia extended the first half lead to as much as eight.. Trailing 36-29, Joel Berry made back-to-back threes to cut the Cavalier lead to one. Yet another late basket at the end of the first half by a UNC opponent made it 38-35 at the break.
The second half opened with both team trading baskets and UNC tying the game three times before an 8-0 Virginia run pushed the lead to 57-49. UNC's defense improved in the second half but the Cavaliers work on the offensive glass became a factor. Virginia grabbed ten offensive rebounds in the second half gleaning 10 points from them. Despite UNC forcing missed shots, the inability to secure those misses proved costly.
Once the Cavalier lead moved into the 8-10 point range, UNC had trouble stringing together enough positive outcomes on either end to effectively close the gap in time. The Tar Heels did make one more push and cut the lead to 77-74 with 17 seconds left but it was too little too late. VIrginia's 18-21 free throw shooting for the game was more than enough to grab a five point win.
Joel Berry posted a career high 21 points and also had a career high five made threes to lead UNC which lost for only the second time this season when Berry hit double figures. Marcus Paige had 13 points despite a poor shooting effort of just 4-13. Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson each had 12 points.
UNC falls to 12-4 in the ACC and needs to beat both Syracuse and Duke to clinch the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament.