No. 3 Virginia dominates 2nd half to beat No. 12 UNC 75-64
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s Marcus Paige found little room to penetrate or launch his shot against Virginia’s defense.
The preseason all-American scored 10 of his 15 points in the final 2½ minutes, though most of that came long after the third-ranked Cavaliers had built a big lead on their way to beating the No. 12 Tar Heels 75-64 on Monday night.
“They help each other out on defense,” Paige said. “They understand that I’m one of the focal points. If I come off a screen, they’re going to have two or three guys there ready to help and then get back to their man. We’ve just got to do a better job executing our stuff.”
Paige got off to a quick start with a 3-pointer and a jumper, but he didn’t score again for about 33 minutes while being chased primarily by Malcolm Brogdon.
By then, though, Virginia was up 16.
“I tried to make his catches hard,” Brogdon said. “I tried to push him out when he got his catches. That tires people down when they’ve got to work that much to get the ball.”
Brogdon scored 17 points while Justin Anderson added 16 for the Cavaliers (20-1, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who responded to their first loss of the season by blowing open a tight game at halftime for an impressive road win.
Coming off Saturday’s loss to Duke in one of the program’s biggest home games in years, Virginia erased a 33-32 halftime deficit by shooting 50 percent while holding the Tar Heels (17-6, 7-3) completely in check to build an 18-point lead and improve to 8-0 in true road games this year.
After shooting 52 percent in the first half, UNC went just 11-for-29 (38 percent).
Brice Johnson added 14 points for UNC, but fellow starter J.P. Tokoto managed just one point on 0-for-3 shooting.
Worse for the Tar Heels, they were unable to speed up the confident Cavaliers and turn it into an open-court game.
If there were any questions about how Virginia would respond after the Duke loss, this was a convincing answer that the Cavaliers aren’t easily shaken as they go for a second straight ACC title.
After blowing an 11-point second-half lead amid a barrage of late 3s from the Blue Devils, Virginia took control with a 9-0 burst midway through the second half. And while the Tar Heels struggled to find a response, Virginia kept pushing forward to stretch the lead.
Virginia: Anthony Gill had 13 points with seven rebounds. ... Virginia scored 18 points off turnovers. ... The Cavaliers had three turnovers after halftime and eight for the game. ... Virginia is now 8-0 in true road games this year.
UNC: Brice Johnson scored 14 points while Kennedy Meeks had 11 despite playing through a fever. ... UNC took a 34-27 rebounding advantage, but managed just 11 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds. .... J.P. Tokoto had one point on 0-for-3 shooting with one rebound in 30 minutes.
After shooting just five times against Duke, Virginia’s London Perrantes had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting while looking much more aggressive.
“I liked his approach,” coach Tony Bennett said.
One of the biggest improvements for Virginia came in transition defense. The Cavaliers allowed a season-high 14 fast-break points against Duke, but yielded one fast-break basket to UNC — coming with 1:53 left.
“Duke beat us because they had a lot of opportunities where they could just go in transition and score,” Gill said. “That’s not the kind of basketball we play at Virginia.”
The Tar Heels lost to a top-10 team for the second time in three days. UNC blew an 18-point second-half lead and lost by 10 in overtime at Louisville over the weekend.
Virginia hosts No. 9 Louisville on Saturday.
UNC travels to Boston College on Saturday.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap