Washington helps UNC battle without Bacot, but Heels again fall short at UVa

By R.L. Bynum

Carolina fans had always heard a lot about Jalen Washington’s talent, but his knee surgery recovery, followed by limited playing time, didn’t allow them to see it for themselves.

When Armando Bacot rolled his left ankle in the first 79 seconds of the game, that gave him a chance to show them and the rest of the college basketball world. His versatile post skills were evident as he helped keep the Tar Heels in the game before No. 13 Virginia led by as many as 10 points in the second half, then held on for a 65–58 victory Tuesday night.

“Jalen’s number came up tonight,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “Even though we came up short, I was really happy with his effort out there.”

That extended the losing streak at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va., to eight games for UNC (11–6, 3–3 ACC) as the Heels just had too much adversity to overcome.

Caleb Love’s three 3-pointers in the last 5:14 gave UNC a chance, but the Tar Heels couldn’t get the needed stops down the stretch. RJ Davis led Carolina with 16 points and three 3-pointers and Love added 13 points and three 3-pointers.

“There were too many offensive rebounds, too many loose balls we didn’t get to,” Coach Davis said. “We have to be sound defensively, and on the offensive end, we had shots, and we had opportunities, and we just weren’t good enough tonight. Plain and simple, period, the end.”

UNC battled without Bacot and Pete Nance, who missed his second consecutive game dealing with back issues, and nearly overcame foul trouble — five Tar Heels, including RJ Davis and Leaky Black had three fouls — with some never-before-seen lineups against Virginia (12–3, 4–2).

“He was down on the floor, and you could tell that he was in a lot of pain,” Coach Davis said of Bacot. “So, just my thoughts are with him [at that moment], just to make sure he’s OK, what’s going on with him and making sure that we’re doing everything to not to help them get back in the game, but just to help him.”

Washington scored 12 points in the first half but could only add one point in the second half.

The Tar Heels’ defense deteriorating down the stretch kept them from overcoming the loss of their best two post players. Washington proved Tuesday that he’s also a gifted post player. He didn’t play as a senior in high school at Gary, Ind., or in this season’s first nine games because of a knee injury.

“From a defensive standpoint, I don’t think there’s any adjustment,” Coach Davis said. “Defenses is defense, regardless of who’s out there on the floor. The only times that we had a little bit of confusion was out of bounds underneath plays because guys were in different spots. Other than that, we were getting into the right spots and trying to execute offensively. We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to make.”

Carolina was lucky only to trail 5–3 after RJ Davis’s 3-pointer 4:48 into the game marked its first points. Washington scored five consecutive UNC points, and his dunk capped a 9–0 run to give the Tar Heels a 12–10 lead with 9:37 left in the first half.

Sparked by 11 Washington points, Carolina went on a 21–5 run, seizing a 24–15 lead on a Black 3-pointer with 3:55 remaining. Virginia outscored UNC 12–5 in the first of the half, though, to slice its deficit to 29–27 by halftime.

Washington was on the bench during the first 3:13 of a 22–5 Virginia run. That gave the Cavaliers a 52–42 lead on a Ben Vander Plas 3-pointer with 9:25 left.

Love’s 3-pointer with 5:14 left capped a 10–4 run to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 56–52. Another Love 3-pointer cut the advantage to three, but Isaac McKneely came back with his third 3-pointer, a long-distance shot, to shove the lead back to six with 2:21 left.

Love cut it back to three on another 3-pointer with 1:08 left, but Reece Beekman’s dunk pushed it back to five and a Vander Plas dunk with 21 seconds left put the game away.

Vander Plas led four Cavaliers scoring in double figures with 17 points.

NOTES — Carolina is on the road again Saturday, facing Louisville (2–14, 0–5) at 2 p.m. (ESPN). The Cardinals take a five-game losing streak into Wednesday’s 9 p.m. game at league-leading Clemson (regional sports networks), last winning 61–55 against Florida A&M on Dec. 17. … Virginia ended UNC’s two-game win streak in the series, after the Tar Heels swept both games last season. UNC still leads the series 133–61. … UNC last won in Charlottesville 54–51 on Feb. 25, 2012. … Virginia coach Tony Bennett is 13–10 against UNC, including a loss as coach of Washington State in the 2008 NCAA tournament. … The Tar Heels are 0–4 in true road games this season. … Virginia shot 53.6% in the second half after shooting 37.5% in the first half.

Virginia 65, UNC 58

UNC lineup combinations


No. 16 Miami15–524–6
No. 13 Virginia15–523–6
No. 25 Pittsburgh14–621–10
N.C. State12–822–9
North Carolina11–919–12
Wake Forest10–1018–13
Boston College9–1115–16
Virginia Tech8–1218–13
Florida State7–139–22
Georgia Tech6–1414–17
Notre Dame3–1711–20

Saturday’s games
Duke 62, North Carolina 57
No. 13 Virginia 75, Louisville 60
Georgia Tech 73, Boston College 65
Virginia Tech 82, Florida State 60
Syracuse 72, Wake Forest 63
No. 26 Miami 78, No. 25 Pittsburgh 76
Clemson 87, Notre Dame 64
End of regular season

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 1 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 21 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 14 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57No. 12 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7TuesdayL, 92–85Wake ForestWinston-Salem15–9,
7–6 ACC
11SaturdayW, 91–71ClemsonHome 16–9,
8–6 ACC
13MondayL, 80–72No. 16 MiamiHome16–10,
8–7 ACC
19SundayL, 77–69N.C. StateRaleigh16–11,
8–8 ACC
22WednesdayW, 63–59Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.17–11,
9–8 ACC
25SaturdayW, 71–63No. 14 VirginiaHome18–11,
10–8 ACC
27MondayW, 77–66Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.19–11,
11–8 ACC
4SaturdayL, 62–57No. 12 DukeHome19–12,
11–9 ACC
ACC tournament
8WednesdayW, 85–61Boston CollegeGreensboro20–12
9ThursdayL, 68–59No. 14 Virginia Greensboro20–13

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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