UNC came away with a 78-68 win at home against Virginia Tech on Monday night despite the fact that they were playing short-handed and Armando Bacot ultimately fouled out. The game was an ugly one that the final score might conceal a bit, but this team needed a win badly and they finally got one.
Carolina carried an unassuming 37-33 lead into the locker room at halftime with Bacot tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Virginia Tech shot 50% from the field in the first half with 13 points from Keve Aluma but little else to show for it. Things turned for the ugly after halftime.
This sentence truly doesn’t even make sense to type, but UNC went on a stretch of missing 14 of 15 shots from the field in the second half. They flirted with shooting 20% until deep into the back half of the game when Brady Manek took over a bit to make the lead more comfortable. Still, the Tar Heels shot just 37% from the field in the second half and 37% in the game. Their 40% shooting from long distance did enough to make up for that, fortunately.
Caleb Love led the way for UNC with 22 points and five assists. RJ Davis and Manek each finished with 15 points, just ahead of Bacot with 14. Bacot also had 19 rebounds before fouling out late. Leaky Black made two three-pointers on his way to a ten-point game that added some much-needed offensive help for the Heels. It was the first time this season that all five starters ended in double figures. Carolina got just two points off the bench from Justin McKoy. The lack of depth led to some long minutes for the starters and the fatigue really showed late in the game.
Virginia Tech found themselves in a bit of foul trouble that kept them at arm’s length down the stretch. Their leading scorers, Aluma and Justyn Mutts, each had four fouls in the game. Storm Murphy did as well.
There aren’t going to be many situations that allow you to miss all but one shot out of 15 taken over one stretch, but UNC managed to do just enough to survive the drought. It certainly follows the offensive struggles we saw during their two blowout losses to Miami and Wake Forest without the detriment of their competition being extremely competent offensively. The result was good and obviously very welcome, but this team still has to get better if they want to play in the NCAA Tournament in March.
Carolina’s turnaround is another quick one as they are back in action on Wednesday against Boston College.