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Tar Heels blowout Cavaliers, end seven game skid to Virginia

A cathartic win for the Tar Heels in many ways

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It was good to be home for the Tar Heels

The Tar Heels shook off both a poor effort on Wednesday and a seven game losing streak to Virginia in a thorough domination of the Cavaliers, winning 74-58 in front of a giddy group of home fans for the first time in 2022.

Armando Bacot had a monster game for the Tar Heels, leading the team with 29 points and grabbing 21 boards. It was the first 20-20 effort for the Tar Heels since Brice Johnson did a 39-23 against FSU back in 2016. Brady Manek poured in 19, and Caleb Love had 16 in, by far, the best effort against the pack line defense in a long time by the Tar Heels.

Reece Beekman lead UVa with 13 points

The Tar Heels’ effort was on a different level on Saturday, as they backed up their words after the disappointing loss to Notre Dame. Both Love and Bacot had stated how they were disappointed in their and the team’s effort in the loss, and from the jump it was clear that Carolina was ready to end their losing streak to Virginia at seven.

The Tar Heels led almost the entire first half, going into the locker room up 31-25, but the second half was on another level. Before coach Hubert Davis emptied the bench to pull the starters, Carolina outscored Virginia in the second half 43-24. The Cavs ended on a 9-0 run with the subs in the game.

Carolina’s passing against the vaunted pack line defense was crisp and clean, constantly getting the ball out of double teams and finding the open player, not taking the first shot and instead getting the ball for a better shot. That usually was to Bacot, who just had his way down low, but when Virginia tried to account for him it would leave Manek or Love open for an open three. It was movement and shooting that had been missing for many of the previous games against the Cavs.

Overall the Tar Heels only had nine turnovers against the UVA defense, but picked up 19 assists on 28 made baskets. The Tar Heels also shot 11-25 from behind the arc, but that includes RJ Davis’ 0-5. Davis was an astounding 0-10 overall. The Tar Heels shot 57.1% overall without Davis’ shots, but the sophomore contributed in other ways, grabbing five boards, picking up four assists, and not turning the ball over once. He also had a block and a steal, the block coming on an impressive play when he was the lone defender on a 3 on 1 break.

The Tar Heels overall showed a renewed commitment to defense. Virginia committed 10 turnovers, and while they shot 44.6% for the game, they had to work hard for those shots while the Tar Heels consistently seemed to be able to find the player they wanted to take the shot. Each player found a role to play and did their part.

The Tar Heels get to enjoy the comforts of home for another week, as they are now off until next Saturday at 8 PM against Georgia Tech.