North Carolina posts dominant win over Virginia

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot (5) goes in for a dunk against Virginia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP)

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina snapped a seven-game losing streak to Virginia in a big way, dominating the Cavaliers in a 74-58 win at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday afternoon.

Carolina had not beaten UVA since Feb. 18, 2017. Both schools have won a national championship since then.

Saturday’s game put five years of frustration to bed as the Tar Heels dominated UVA inside. Virginia led once in the game, at 7-6, and Carolina took the lead for good at the 15:09 mark in the first half. After leading 31-25 at the half, UNC scored the first five points after halftime and never looked back. The lead grew to as many as 25 in the second half. The Tar Heels had a 10-point edge on second-chance points and outrebounded UVA, 36-28.

Virginia had no answer for UNC’s Armando Bacot, who had career highs in points and rebounds, scoring 29 and pulling down 21 boards, nine offensive — the first 20-20 game by a Tar Heel since Brice Johnson in January 2016. He hit 12 of 18 shots from the field and drew five UVA fouls as the Cavaliers struggled to contain him inside. Bacot also became just the second Tar Heel to get 20 rebounds in the Smith Center, joining Sean May.

The last player to have a 20-20 game against Virginia was Tim Duncan in 1997.

“He told me he’d never played well against Virginia,” Caleb Love said. “I told him, ‘Get that out of your head. It’s a new game, new year.’ He dominated the whole game.”

Bacot’s success inside helped open things up on the perimeter. Love and Brady Manek led an 11-of-25 shooting day from 3-point range for the Tar Heels. Manek hit 5 of 9 for 19 points, while Love was 4 of 9 from 3 for 16 points. Both players also had five assists.

“There were a number of ways that Caleb had a terrific game,” said UNC coach Hubert Davis. “Number one, he led the team in assists.” Davis also praised Love’s decision making on both ends of the court. “I thought he had an outstanding game on the defensive end.”

RJ Davis struggled from outside for the Tar Heels, missing all 10 of his shots from the field, including five 3-point attempts. He is the first Tar Heel to miss at least 10 shots without making one in a game since Harrison Barnes in 2010.