No. 6 Virginia aims to get back on track vs. North Carolina

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No. 6 Virginia will look to recover from its worst offensive effort of the season when it faces North Carolina in Atlantic Coast Conference action Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The cold-shooting Cavaliers (21-5, 13-4 ACC) fell flat in Wednesday’s 63-48 defeat at Boston College, held under 50 points for the first time while shooting a season-worst 32.2 percent from the field.

Virginia missed 17 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc against the Eagles and is shooting just 27 percent (23 of 85) from 3-point land over its past five games. The Cavaliers managed to win the first four of those contests, including three- and two-point escapes against Louisville and Notre Dame, respectively.

There was no escape against Boston College, as starters Armaan Franklin, Reece Beekman and Kihei Clark sank only one of their 10 combined 3-point attempts. Jayden Gardner (16 points) was the only Cavalier in double figures.

“We’ve been in so many close games this year, and we’ve been fortunate to win obviously the majority of them, but we have not shot the ball well, whether it’s finishing or sometimes even at the free-throw line,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “And that showed up again and I didn’t even think we got great looks.”

Freshman Isaac McKneely made two of the Cavaliers’ four 3-pointers at Boston College. He is shooting a team-high 40.8 percent from long distance and is second on the squad with 42 made 3-pointers (Franklin, 53).

“I feel like the past couple games we haven’t been playing our best,” McKneely said. “Offensively, we haven’t been moving like we should. … So all we can do now is just learn from this, take the kick in the mouth and just bounce back next game.”

Virginia didn’t shoot particularly well in its first meeting with North Carolina, a 65-58 win in Charlottesville, Va., on Jan. 10. The Cavaliers were 6-for-19 from 3-point range and 11-for-19 at the foul line.

Virginia got 28 bench points, including a game-high 17 from Ben Vander Plas, and greatly benefited from the early exit of Tar Heels star Armando Bacot.

Bacot, who leads the Tar Heels (17-11, 9-8) in scoring (17.3) and rebounding (11.1), turned an ankle in the opening minute against the Cavaliers and did not return.

Bacot delivered 16 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday as North Carolina snapped a two-game skid with a 63-59 victory at Notre Dame.

Caleb Love also scored 16 points, R.J. Davis added 12 and Pete Nance had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. The Tar Heels survived their worst shooting night of the season, including a 2-for-23 (8.7 percent) effort from 3-point range.

“I always say there are three boxes you have to check in any game,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “You have to get after it defensively. You have to rebound the basketball. And you have to take care of the basketball.”

The Tar Heels played tough defense, owned the glass (52-33) and committed only nine turnovers.

“We shot 2-for-23 from three and 33 percent from the field,” Davis said. “But if you check those three boxes, you give yourself a chance to be successful.”

Virginia has won eight of the last 10 meetings in this rivalry.

–Field Level Media

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