#5 Virginia Bounces Back Against the Tar Heels
After a poor performance against Purdue, the Virginia men’s basketball team had redemption in mind. One removed from winning a national championship, the players didn’t want to be remembered as the rebuilding team. The team that struggled to win games against good teams under one of the greatest coaches in all of college basketball.
Even after just one loss, those things were being thrown around by fans and media alike. So early in the season, yet they were already being deemed a disappointment. Coach Tony Bennett had to get on his team for not taking care of the ball and forcing bad shots just several days earlier against Purdue.
His team stepped up when it mattered, beating a North Carolina team with future top-five pick, Cole Anthony. The Cavaliers stepped up and played good defense and found scoring in areas they weren’t expecting. In doing so, they were able to beat ranked #7 North Carolina 56-47 at home.
The game started off with very little offense. Both teams continued their sloppy play for the first 10 minutes of the game. The score was 6-5 with only nine minutes remaining in the first half.
After a slow start, both teams started making shots. Mamadi Diakite finished the first half with eight points. Kihei Clark connected with several teammates on some important shots. Clark finished the half with four assists.
Virginia had the lead at halftime 24-18.
Junior college transfer, Tomas Woldetensae, opened up Virginia’s scoring in the second half with his third three-pointer of the game. North Carolina went on a 9-2 run to close the deficit to two points. However, that would be as close as they would get for the rest of the game.
North Carolina struggled closing out on shooters, fouling several times to send the Wahoos to the free-throw line. Cole Anthony wasn’t able to get going all night and it hurt his team. He finished the game with 12 points on 4-15 shooting (1-6 3PT) and no assists.
Looking Back at the Stats
Francisco Caffaro and Justin McKoy provided a ton of energy off the bench. Caffaro poured in ten points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. McKoy only scored four points, all on free-throws, however, he recorded five rebounds and played solid defense while on the floor.
Diakite was the team’s leading scorer with 12 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes, despite fouling out late in the game. Tomas Woldetensae scored a career-high 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown. Clark also provided seven points and six assists.
The team only shot 16-49 (33%) on the night and 6-17 from beyond the arc (35%) but held the Tar Heels to 17-46 (37%) and 1-14 (7%) from three. North Carolina struggled from the free-throw line, only converting 12-22 (54%). This was North Carolina’s second consecutive game with fewer than 50 points.
The Cavaliers will now enjoy ten days of rest before taking on Stony Brook at home. Virginia is now 8-1 on the year and 2-0 in ACC play. After a small drop in the rankings this week, the Cavaliers will have time to reflect on their new, number-9 ranking. Tony Bennett will certainly want to continue his winning ways, playing three non-conference games before facing Virginia Tech.
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