No. 9 Virginia Tramples Tar Heels, 86-66
Feb. 25, 2001
By HANK KURZ JR.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Tent cities filled with students desperate for aticket. A sea of orange shirts at every game. Players that feed off of thefans, and noise that makes it hard to concentrate.
This is what Virginia basketball has become for coach Pete Gillen and theNo. 9 Cavaliers this season, and No. 2 North Carolina became the latest toexperience it in an 86-66 loss at University Hall on Sunday.
“They were quicker today, they jumped higher today and they shot the ballbetter today,” Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty said of the Cavaliers, whoimproved to 13-1 at home with victories against Duke and Maryland.
“When we play, we can play with anybody in the country,” Gillen said. “Wejust want to try to be as close to what we did today as many times as we can.That’s what the great teams do.”
Virginia jumped the Tar Heels in the first half with a 22-6 run that turneda 31-29 deficit into a 51-37 lead and had another sellout crowd, some of whomhad camped out eight days for tickets, simply delirious
The second half proved more of the same as a 10-4 burst pushed the Virginialead to 76-56 with 9:47 left and seemed to end the suspense.
“What we wanted to do in the second half was keep that lead, pressure themand make them try to come to us,” Virginia’s Roger Mason said.
Virginia held on despite a scoring drought that lasted 5:47, allowing NorthCarolina to get within 76-66 with 4:55 left. But that basket, a layup by JosephForte, proved the last points the Tar Heels scored.
Forte scored 28 points, but made only four of his last 19 shots afterstarting out 7-for-8, and Brendan Haywood added 20 points. Haywood finished9-for-12 from the field, the rest of the team was 19-for-52.
The Tar Heels also suffered from the absence of point guard Ronald Curry forall but eight minutes of the first half, when he drew three fouls, and fromthree that put Haywood on the bench in the second half.
The victory was Virginia’s fourth against a team ranked in the top 10 at thetime, and came only 11 days after another one, a 91-89 last-second triumphagainst then-No. 2 Duke that ended the same way this one did.
As the final horn sounded, students from both sides stormed the court, andGillen and some players addressed them on the microphone.
“They were berserk,” said Gillen, who joked that he’d spent half hisbudget in the past two weeks buying food for the tent city occupants.
The Cavaliers (19-6, 8-6 ACC) were paced by Mason with 18 points, DonaldHand with 17 and Travis Watson with 14 and 10 rebounds. Adam Hall and ChrisWilliams each added 13, and all but Watson hit a 3-pointer.
Since heading into ACC play at 10-0, then struggling, Virginia has come along way since losing 73-68 at home to Georgias Tech on Jan. 9.
“Everybody knows what type of roll they have now,” Watson said.”Everybody can score and everybody feels comfortable with everybody.”
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, left with a disappointed coach.
“You’ve got to bring it every night, and today we didn’t. That’s the mostdisappointing thing,” Doherty said. “It hurts to admit that.”
Virginia led 56-42 at halftime. It was the most points allowed by the TarHeels in a half this season and featured nine Cavaliers 3-pointers.
Playing a more deliberate offensive style against the Tar Heels zone in thesecond half, the Cavaliers used their 10-4 run to push their margin to 20 forthe first time, and the Tar Heels seemed to fade.