Good, Bad and Ugly Report: Virginia

By Doc Kennedy

Well, that was a tale of two halves.

After outlasting Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday on a season-low shooting effort, UNC came out red-hot against suddenly slumping Virginia, knocking down nearly 60% of its shots in the first half, including nine 3-pointers on 16 attempts. The oft-maligned Pete Nance led the way with a 4-4 effort from three, and the Tar Heels built a 16-point halftime lead.

As one might expect, there was some significant regression to the mean in the second 20 minutes, as the game devolved into a rock fight. In the end, even though the Hoos cut the lead to six late, the Tar Heels hung on for a much-needed win, pushing Hubert Davis to a 3–1 record against Virginia, with the only loss earlier this season in a game played without Pete Nance and in which Armando Bacot was injured 70 seconds in and did not return.

The first half was exactly the kind of effort and result that makes this team so frustrating: great ball movement, great shooting, great defense. The second half is also so much of what fans have seen this season: poor execution, shoddy defense, and brickmason-worthy shooting. Unlike other chances this season, this time UNC did not let a second-half lead slip away, and the NCAA at-large hopes remain alive.

With that in mind, here is the “Finally, a Quad 1 Win!” edition of the Good, Bad, and Ugly Report:


Pete Nance

The grad transfer from Northwestern was Mr. Everything on Saturday night. Nance led all scorers with 22 points on 7-10 shooting from the field, including 4 of 4 from three and another 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Nance added two rebounds, two assists, four blocks and a steal.

RJ Davis

Davis posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 2 of 4 from distance. Davis also added four assists. If his finger is on the mend and Nance’s back is healing to produce the kind of effort both had against Virginia, that is exactly what UNC will need for a potential tournament run.

3-point shooting

Carolina shot 9 of 16 in the first half, good for a 56% clip. And even though the Heels were only 1 of 6 in the second half, the 10 of 22 result is one of their better efforts of the season. As a reminder, UNC is 11–1 when shooting just 32% or better in a game. Again, the Heels don’t have to shoot 45% like they did tonight; they only have to be slightly below average.


Caleb Love

Part of the Caleb Love ExperienceTM is nights like Saturday: 10 points on 2 of 12 shooting, including 1 of 8 from three. Love had played and shot fairly well lately, so hopefully, this is just an anomaly, one that was balanced out by Davis’ solid effort. Love did add eight rebounds, so that was a positive.

Post rebounding

For all of Nance’s efforts, he only contributed two rebounds, which did not come until the last four minutes of the game. Bacot had only six with his minutes limited by some second-half foul trouble. Davis nearly out-rebounded all three posts (including Jalen Washington’s three boards) by himself. In addition, even though they shot 47% for the game, UNC only collected three offensive boards, all by Bacot. Bacot himself had 22 rebounds against Virginia in Chapel Hill last season.



UNC’s second-half offense

Given that the Tar Heels were on fire in the first 20 minutes, you might expect them to come crashing back to Earth a little in the second frame, but that was as ugly as the lights coming on at Troll’s at closing time back in the day. Carolina only made seven baskets in the second half, and at one point only made one basket in nearly nine minutes. UNC shot 33% in the second half, and went only 1-6 from three. Fortunately, it did not cost them as the Hoos’ hole was too deep.

With that, we can bid so long to the “UNC is 0-9 in Quad 1 games” narrative which spawned so many ESPN graphics over the past week (although UNC previously has had wins that were Quad 1 at the time but aren’t anymore, so don’t get me started on how ridiculous the NET can be as a metric) but Carolina still has work to do to get on the right side of the bubble. The next task is avoiding a letdown Monday on a short turnaround against a Florida State team that has struggled mightily this season but just posted the biggest comeback in ACC history over previously league-leading Miami. While UNC hasn’t posted a lot of great wins, one of their biggest NET positives is no bad (Q3/Q4) losses. Carolina can’t afford to stub its toe in Tallahassee if it wants to stay in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Doc Kennedy is an alum and longtime UNC fan, and a former high school and college basketball coach who wrote this report for years on Tar Heel Blog.

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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