Cavaliers Edged by North Carolina 62-56 in ACC Home Opener
CHARLOTTESVILLE-Junior forward Tyler Zeller scored a team-high 12 points and was a key part of a second half rally that led North Carolina to a 62-56 victory over Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena Saturday afternoon (Jan. 8).
The victory was the fourth in a row and seventh in the last eight games for the Tar Heels who are now 11-4 overall and 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With the loss Virginia drops to 10-6 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.
Zeller was the only North Carolina player to score in double figures in the game. Freshman forward Harrison Barnes scored nine points and sophomore forward John Henson had eight points for the Tar Heels.
Four Virginia players scored in double figures led by freshman guard KT Harrell’s game-high 13 points. Sophomore guard Jontel Evans tied his career high with 11 points, senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan also scored 11 points and freshman guard Joe Harris added 10 points for the Cavaliers. Evans also had four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Junior center Assane Sene had a game-high 11 rebounds for UVa.
The Tar Heels were behind 37-30 at halftime and trailed by 11 points (43-32) with 14:25 left in the game. Virginia led 47-39 with 10:03 remaining to play when North Carolina went on an 18-5 run to take a 57-52 lead with 1:13 left in the game. Seven different Tar Heels scored in the run with Zeller leading the way with six points.
UVa cut the North Carolina lead to 57-56 with 37 seconds remaining on two driving layups by Evans, but the Tar Heels made five of six free throws in the last 30 seconds to hold off the Cavaliers. North Carolina made 14 of its last 16 free throws over the final 5:01 of the game.
The Tar Heels led by as many as nine points in the first half and led 26-18 with 8:53 left in the half before Virginia went on a 19-4 run, including the last eight points of the half, to take the seven point halftime lead. Harrell scored seven points for the Cavaliers in that run.
North Carolina shot 37.0 percent (20-54) from the field in the game, including 27.3 percent (3-11) from three-point range, and shot 70.4 percent (19-27) from the free throw line. The Tar Heels out-rebounded UVa 39-32. Sophomore guard Dexter Strickland led North Carolina with six rebounds.
Virginia shot 41.2 percent (21-51) from the field, including 35.3 percent (6-17) from three-point range, and 66.7 percent (8-12) from the free throw line.
The game was the last of an eight-game homestand for UVa. Virginia was 5-3 in the eight games.
The Cavaliers return to action on Jan. 15 at Duke. That game is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.