No. 8 North Carolina had a chance to defeat No. 4 Virginia and make a statement in the ACC. The Tar Heels led by seven points with nine minutes left in the game.
But the Cavaliers were just too good. UVA junior guard Kyle Guy hit a 3-pointer with 1:10 left to give the Cavaliers a six point lead and the game. Guy was also fouled but missed the free throw.
The Tar Heels attempted to come back with some desperation 3’s but could not hit them. UVA beat UNC 69-61.
“We had some chances to win the game but they made plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I think they’re defense was better than our offense, and their offense was better than our defense.”
The loss snaps the Tar Heels’ seven-game winning streak and gives them only their second conference loss in 11 games. The Cavaliers have now beaten the Tar Heels four consecutive times dating back to the 2016-17 season. UNC freshman Coby White led the Tar Heels in scoring with 17 points, but he was 6 of 19 from the floor. Senior Cam Johnson had 16 points, and was 6 of 14 from the floor.
UNC freshman wing Nassir Little went down with a right ankle injury in the first half. He did not return.
The Cavaliers got out to a fast start on the Tar Heels. They hit 6 of 9 three-pointers in the first half and led 36-29 at halftime.
The Tar Heels trailed 40-32 with a little more than 17 minutes left in the game, before going on a 17-3 run to take a six-point lead. The run was started by a Coby White layup, followed by a Kenny Williams 3-pointer from the top of the key. He held the follow through a little longer than normal. After that, UNC got a defensive stop, and found Garrison Brooks on the other end for an open dunk.
UVA’s De’Andre Hunter answered with a 3-pointer, but Johnson scored on the other end, while being fouled. That gave the Tar Heels a one point lead with about 14 minutes left.
The run was capped off by a White 3-pointer that made it a six-point game with about 12 minutes left.
But the Cavaliers (21-2, 9-2 ACC) battled back ending the game on a 21-6 run to beat the Tar Heels (19-5, 9-2). During the Cavaliers’ run, they had no turnovers and made seven of their last eight shots.
“I think their defense got stronger,” Williams said. “We took a couple of rushed shots, didn’t make shots. I don’t think we turned the ball over but eight times, but I think we had two turnovers during that stretch, too.”
The Tar Heels’ 61 points were a season low. UNC shot 35 percent from the floor, while UVA shot 53 percent.
“They are always there,” UNC senior guard Kenny Williams said of UVA’s defense. “They play great defense and that is what they hang their hats on.”
Guy finished with 20 points. UVA junior guard Ty Jerome, who had been dealing with a back injury, had 15 points and 11 assists. UNC’s next game is Saturday at Wake Forest (9-13, 2-8).