There is an old cliche, "An ugly win is better than a pretty loss" and it certainly applied to North Carolina's 54-51 victory over Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Tyler Zeller scored 20 points while John Henson had 15 points and 11 rebounds. They were the only double figure scorers for the Tar Heels on the day. Harrison Barnes struggled from the floor going 3-15 to finish with 7 points. Kendall Marshall was held to 1 point and 6 assists after posting a career high against N.C. State in his last outing.
As a team, Carolina shot only 33.3% from the floor and were 2-14 from behind the three point arch. They did control the boards with a 44-29 advantage on the glass and went to the free throw line 23 times, converting 18.
Virginia was able to control the tempo throughout the game as Carolina scored only 26 points in the first half and 28 in the second. Fortunately for the Tar Heels, Virginia wasn't much better scoring. Only shooting 35% from the floor and were 6-23 from beyond the three point line, a whopping 26.1%. The Cavs found themselves in foul trouble as Player of the Year Candidate, Mike Scott could only stay on the court 22 minutes, scoring 6 points. Jontel Evans led Virginia with 13 points.
This day belonged to Tyler Zeller who started fast scoring the first 10 points and closing the game with a huge dunk that put the Tar Heels up by 3 with 13.3 seconds left. Coach Williams spoke of Zeller after the game, "Z carried us a great deal of the time, to say the least.." That put things into perspective as Carolina struggled to establish a lot of offense in this game.
The win moved North Carolina back into a tie atop the ACC at 12-2 with Duke. The two schools meet in a rematch in Durham next weekend. Both teams are 25-4 overall with North Carolina hosting Maryland on Wednesday as Duke travels to Wake Forest on Tuesday before the two clash. The regular season Championship could likely be on the line.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Shurtleff / AP)