The Tar Heels didn’t play well on the road again. They had a chance to win the ACC regular season title outright ahead of the Duke game on Saturday and couldn’t do it. It shouldn’t be time to panic, though.
UNC’s ten-point loss to Virginia was largely self-inflicted. The Tar Heels committed 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to nearly all (not a typo) of Virginia’s points. UNC managed to clean that statistic up in the second half, but the poor shooting that was constantly disrupted by the Cavaliers’ defense remained.
Joel Berry II led the way for Carolina with 12 points. No other players were in double figures. The duo of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks were not able to get anything going down low, despite the obvious size difference, and combined for just eight points. Six of those belonged to Meeks. Hicks fouled out again.
UVA got a great boost from behind the three-point line, making ten of their 24 attempts. It was a stark contrast to the game these two teams played in Chapel Hill just over a week ago. Hicks and Meeks turned the ball over three times a piece while Justin Jackson and Luke Maye gave it away twice each.
It was an ugly game to say the least. You can point to UNC playing their second road game in three days, the rather questionable officiating, the frustrating pace, or any of number of things. The main thing is that the Heels never looked like they were in control of the game. They did pull to within one at one point later in the second half, but Virginia quickly extended the lead once more.
This will be an easy one to overreact to, but there are many reasons you shouldn’t do that. Carolina still has a chance to close out the regular season with the ACC title on Saturday against Duke at home, has already locked up the top seed in the ACC Tournament, and is still more the capable of securing a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The play of Hicks has to be better. He has become a bit of a liability for the Tar Heels with his fouls out-pacing his scoring. UNC is a much better team when he can stay on the floor and actually participate in the offense. Getting that under control should be a priority before it’s too late.
Carolina closes out the regular season at home against Duke on Saturday. I bet you knew that already.