By R.L. Bynum
After splitting a pair of ACC games by similar one-sided margins, North Carolina fell two spots in the AP Top 25 women’s basketball poll to No. 21.
The Tar Heels (14–1, 4–1 ACC) rebounded from a 72–45 loss at N.C. State (14–2, 5–0), which moved up a spot to No. 4, on Thursday with an impressive 71–46 home win Sunday against Virginia Tech (11–4, 3–1).
Carolina fell three spots in the coach’s poll to No. 18.
Four teams behind UNC in last week’s AP poll lost: Kentucky (was No. 21 now No. 19) to No. 1 South Carolina 74–54, Iowa (was No. 22, now unranked) to Northwestern 77–69, Oklahoma (still No. 23) to No. 12 Iowa State 81–71 and Texas A&M (was No. 25 now unranked) to No. 7 Tennessee 73–45 and Florida in two overtimes 97–89.
Other ranked ACC teams are No. 3 Louisville (13–1, 3–0), No. 15 Georgia Tech (11–3, 2–1), which moved up one spot, No. 16 Duke (11–2, 2–1), which is up one spot, and No. 20 Notre Dame (11–3, 2–1), which Carolina is scheduled to visit at 1 p.m. Sunday (regional sports networks).
Broadcaster Debbie Antonelli ranked UNC the highest at No. 13, up six slots from where she had the Tar Heels last week. Mitchell Northam of WUNC, the only North Carolina-based AP voter, had State No. 3, Duke No. 15 and UNC No. 16.
Four voters left Carolina off their ballots: Andraya Carter of SEC Network, James Kratch of The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., Rebecca Lobo of ESPN and Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle in Bryan, Texas.
UNC is No. 4 in the NET rankings, No. 6 in the Massey Ratings, and No. 15 on RealTimeRPI.com.
The Tar Heels are off to their best start since the 2012–13 team began the season 18–1 and 5–1 in the ACC on its way to the Elite Eight and a 27–10 finish. That’s also the last time Carolina was 8–0 at home. That team won its first 14 in Carmichael Arena.
UNC has won its first three home league games by at least 19 points. The Tar Heels have already equaled the season total in the 2013–14 season with nine wins by at least 25 points.
Carolina leads the ACC in:
— Scoring margin, first in the country, 27.9 points per game (next-best is 24.4 by Florida Gulf Coast)
— Free throws made, sixth in the country, 226
— Free throws attempted, sixth in the country, 330
— Turnover margin, seventh in the country, 8.08
— 3-point-shooting-percentage defense, seventh in the country, 23.5% (held Virginia Tech to 16.7%)
— Steals, 13th in the country, 165
— Steals per game, 27th in the country, 11
The Tar Heels are second in the ACC in:
— Field-goal percentage defense, fourth in the country, 32.5% (after holding Hokies to 31%)
— Scoring offense, 15th in the country, 79.7 per game
— Rebounding, 6th in the country, 675
— Rebounds per game, 10th in the country, 45.27
— Rebounding margin, 15th in the country, 10.1
Sophomore guard Deja Kelly leads the ACC in free-throw percentage at 84.9% and is third in scoring average at 17.6 points per game.
Sophomore wing Alyssa Ustby is second in the ACC and tied for 19th in the country in double-doubles with seven, and is 10th in the league in scoring at 13.9 points per game.
AP Top 25
Others receiving votes: Florida Gulf Coast 52, Iowa 38, Ohio State 31, Missouri State 15, DePaul 12, Missouri 12, Nebraska 10, Virginia Tech 3. (Point values in parentheses indicate the number of first-place votes).
UNC season statistics
day, time, TV
|9||92–47 win, 1–0||Home||N.C. A&T|
|14||89–33 win, 2–0||Road||Charlotte|
|17||89–44 win, 3–0||Home||Appalachian State|
|21||79–46 win, 4–0||Road||TCU|
|26||72–59 win, 5–0||Bimini, Bahamas||X — VCU|
|27||58–37 win, 6–0||Bimini, Bahamas||X — Washington|
|December (6–0, 2–0 ACC)|
|1||82–76 win, 7–0||Road||Y — Minnesota|
|5||93–47 win, 8–0||Home||James Madison|
|12||107–46 win, 9–0||Home||UNC Asheville|
|19||76–63 win, 10–0, 1–0 ACC||Road||Boston College|
|21||83–47 win, 11–0||Home||Alabama State|
|30||79–43 win, 12–0, 2–0||Home||Syracuse|
|January (2–1, 2–1 ACC)|
|2||81–62 win, 13–0, 3–0 ACC||Home||Clemson|
|6||72–45 loss, 13–1, 3–1||Road||No. 4 N.C. State|
|9||71–46 win, 14–1, 4–1||Home||Virginia Tech|
|16||Sunday, 1, RSN||Road||No. 20 Notre Dame|
|20||Thursday, 6, ACCNX||Home||Virginia|
|23||Sunday, noon, ACCN||Road||No. 15 Georgia Tech|
|27||Thursday, 7, ACCNX||Road||No. 16 Duke|
|30||Sunday, noon or 4, ESPN or ACCN||Home||No. 4 N.C. State|
|3||Thursday, 8, RSN||Road||Wake Forest|
|6||Sunday, noon, ACCN||Home||Miami|
|10||Thursday, 6, ACCNX||Home||Pittsburgh|
|13||Sunday, 1, ACCNX||Road||Virginia Tech|
|17||Thursday, 6, RSN||Home||No. 3 Louisville|
|20||Sunday, noon, RSN||Road||Florida State|
|24||Thursday, 7, ACCNX||Road||Virginia|
|27||Sunday, TBA, ESPN2 or ACCN||Home||No. 16 Duke|
X —Goombay Splash; Y — Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications