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North Carolina takes control early, downs No. 6 Virginia


Pete Nance scored 22 points and hit all four of his 3-point attempts as North Carolina solved the vaunted defense of No. 6 Virginia in a 71-63 win on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

RJ Davis added 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as North Carolina (18-11, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) notched its first Quad 1 victory of the season and boosted its NET ranking, a key metric used in the selection of NCAA Tournament teams.

Armando Bacot contributed 11 points and six rebounds as the Tar Heels avenged a Jan. 10 defeat at Virginia. In that 65-58 loss, Nance was sidelined with a back injury and Bacot sustained an ankle injury that forced him out in the game’s second minute.

Jayden Gardner had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Armaan Franklin added 14 points to lead slumping Virginia (21-6, 13-5), which lost its second straight.

The Cavaliers had an opportunity to pull into a first-place tie in the league with Pitt after Miami lost on Saturday to Florida State.

Against the top-scoring defense in the ACC, North Carolina shot 46.8 percent from the floor and made 10 of 22 shots (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Tar Heels’ long-range assault began as Nance and Caleb Love (10 points, eight rebounds) connected from deep in the opening minutes. After that, North Carolina never trailed.

Nance hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline and added a 3-pointer to start and finish a seven-point run that gave the Tar Heels an 18-10 lead.

Later in the half, Puff Johnson (eight points) came off the North Carolina bench and hit 3-pointers 30 seconds apart. Davis followed minutes later with six points on consecutive possessions as the Tar Heels pushed their lead to their largest of the night, 37-20.

When Nance closed the half with a forced 3-point try at the buzzer, it swished through the hoop as the Tar Heels closed the period with a 42-26 lead and a 9-for-16 performance from deep.

After the break, Virginia reversed the tide as Ben Vander Plas made a 3-pointer and added a layup. When Gardner followed with a jumper to complete the 7-0 run, Virginia sliced the deficit 42-33 less than two minutes into the second half.

But the Tar Heels regained control as Leaky Black hit a 3-pointer and Davis followed with a three-point play.

Down the stretch, Nance helped the Tar Heels sew it up by hammering home an emphatic slam dunk. He blocked two shots on the ensuing possession. Nance and Black finished the game with four blocks each.

–Field Level Media

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