Some nights just aren’t your night, and some places just aren’t your place. Tuesday night wasn’t UNC’s night, and John Paul Jones Arena is certainly not their place. Armando Bacot injured his ankle just over a minute into the game, and although the Tar Heels fought admirably without their best player, they fell short in the end for a 65-58 loss to Virginia.
Without Bacot, Hubert Davis turned to freshman Jalen Washington down low. Washington, who has been on limited minutes while working his way back from an ACL injury, filled in as well as anyone could have asked for. He finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes. RJ Davis led the Tar Heels in scoring with 16 points, joining Washington in double figures.
Caleb Love was largely absent until very late in the game offensively. He hit three late three-pointers that kept the score close until late, but UNC couldn’t get a stop defensively when they needed one to try and tie it late. Love had just two points in the first half and shot 4-13 from the field in the game. If UNC was going to win this one, they needed more from Love. The late shots were nice, but ultimately they came too late to help enough.
The team turned the ball over 13 times, directly leading to 19 points for Virginia. The margins were so thin without Bacot that this was enough to doom them. Washington, Leaky Black, and Justin McKoy each had six rebounds, actually leading to UNC winning the rebound battle 36-32. Unfortunately, points in the paint were as lopsided as you’d expect without Bacot, with UVA besting Carolina in the category, 32-20.
UNC shot 40% from the field and 33% from long distance in the game. While both teams had a pretty even first half, Virginia found quite a bit of shooting in the second half on their way to a 54% half. They shot 50% from three (4-8) after halftime after making just two of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half.
If someone told you that Bacot would be lost in the opening 90 seconds and UNC would still find a way to have a nine-point lead in the game, you’d take that every time. It was the nine-point lead that made the collapse late all the more disappointing. This one felt like it was right there for the taking, and UNC just didn’t have the manpower or effectiveness to get it done. The loss was the eighth straight for Carolina in Charlottesville. The Tar Heels haven’t beaten Virginia in Charlottesville since Maryland was still a member of the ACC.
As disappointing as the loss was, all eyes now turn to the health of Bacot’s ankle going forward. An ankle injury hampered him in the national championship game against Kansas last season, and he had just started really finding his stride this season after a shoulder injury impacted him early on. UNC absolutely needs Bacot if they want to have a chance of making this season into anything notable. Hopefully him sitting out the rest of the game was done in order to make sure that he wouldn’t make matters worse and need to miss even more time. Only time will tell, but ankle injuries are nothing to mess with. Hopefully the big man is feeling better sooner rather than later.
Carolina will be back in action Saturday when they travel to Louisville to take on the Cardinals.