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UNC 61, Virginia 69: Tar Heels come up just short, snapping their seven-game win streak

UNC led by seven points late in the second half but couldn’t put away the Cavaliers.

Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

UNC lost Nassir Little to an ankle injury, lost Cam Johnson briefly with a leg injury, and ultimately came up short against the fourth-ranked team in the country Monday night. The Tar Heels shot 35% from the field to Virginia’s 53%, which makes it all the more surprising that Carolina was able to storm back to take a lead down the stretch. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on.

Both teams found success from distance with UNC converting on nine of their attempts and Virginia sinking 11 of their’s. It gets a little ugly when you consider that UNC made 30 attempts from beyond the arc, good enough for a 30% mark, but on many nights that’ll be enough. It wasn’t tonight.

The Cavaliers made UNC play their style of basketball for the entire first half, to UNC’s detriment. Cameron Johnson was the leading scorer for UNC with just nine points when they headed to the locker room. Coby White finished the game as the Heels’ leading scorer with 17 points, with ten of those coming after halftime. Garrison Brooks and Johnson joined White as the only Heels in double figures. Luke Maye finished the game with 11 rebounds but just four points.

UNC out-rebounded UVA 38-27, and turned it over fewer times (eight to UVA’s 10). Carolina was much better at getting second-chance points (15-2) but none of it mattered in the end. They couldn’t stop Virginia’s shooters from distance, and Kyle Guy and DeAndre Hunter made them pay for it. Each scored 20 points to lead the way for the Cavs. Add in Ty Jerome and the three combined for 55 of Virginia’s 69 points.

The most frustrating thing is that UNC held a seven-point lead with 8:58 left. Virginia went on a 12-2 run and UNC missed their last eight field goals to seal the defeat. They had them right where they wanted them, playing Carolina’s style of ball, and just couldn’t close the deal.

Another big loss for the Heels is Little. His ankle injury kept him out of the remainder of the game and could do the same for several games going forward if it is as bad as we fear. Hopefully the best case scenario plays out and he’s fine, but UNC just lost Leaky Black indefinitely to a similar issue. It’s a tough break for the freshman star playing on his birthday.

In the long list of shots that will be forgotten to time, White launched a ball from 40 feet with the shot clock expiring that somehow found nothing but net. It would have put the Heels in a much better position, but the shot was called off for a shot clock violation. We’re talking the difference of milliseconds. It was a crazy acrobatic shot that probably had no business finding the basket the way it did, but it did and the fact that it didn’t count was incredibly unfortunate.

The Heels were victims of the shot clock twice this evening with another coming on a fast break after a Virginia turnover. It was ruled that White did not touch the ball in time before Virginia’s 30 seconds expired, and thus the basket on the other end did not count. It’s a tough five-point swing that didn’t go the Heels’ way, but I guess basketball is cruel like that sometimes.

UNC will look to bounce back from the loss at Wake Forest on Saturday. The Heels are perfect on the road in conference play this season and they’ll look to continue that streak at LJVM.