Home Page banner.cb3cartoon.
Check back prior to the 2008 season for a preview and a program outlook.
Click here for Carolina baseball analysis.

Off the cuff: The TV announcers kept talking about what a good game the UNC at Virginia game was. And I normally like lower scoring, fewer possession games. But this was not a good game.

It was a good 62-56 win for the Tar Heels, who rallied from 11 down in the second half to win a road game to start the ACC season. But this was not a good game.

This was a game that was tied with 2:56 to go and was a one-point game with 38 seconds to go. But this was not a good game.

Neither team shot very well. And while it was close at the end, the game didn't really seem close throughout. Carolina had a big lead early and Virginia had a big lead in the second half.

The 12-minute stretch during the middle of the game when Carolina scored just two points was like watching paint dry. Despite the futility, the Cavaliers came out of the 12 minutes with only an eight-point lead.

The game did show that Carolina can hit free throws - especially with John Henson on the bench as the Heels canned 14 of their last 16 from the line.

And the game did show that this Carolina team, when it gets behind, is tougher than last year's team. This team is willing to grind it out and keep playing its game until something breaks for them.

Tar Heels 62, Virginia 56
UNC grinds out ugly, defensive win

Down by 11 in the second half, after scoring one bucket in 12 minutes, North Carolina managed to grind out a come-from-behind 62-56 victory at Virginia. (1/8)

The Tar Heels slowly rallied despite hitting just 27 percent of their shots in the second half. "That was one of the ugliest wins I've ever been involved in," UNC coach Roy Williams said adding that he felt like the kid who had stolen every cookie out of the cookie jar and just wanted to get out of town.

He also said, though, that he was very proud of his team's toughness. "Last year's team didn't show that toughness when they got down."

Down by seven at the half at 37-30, the Heels' deficit stretched to 11 at 43-32 at the start of the second half when Carolina missed its first eight shots of the half.

Midway through the second half, Virginia, despite going cold themselves, managed to hold the same margin as it had at halftime with a 47-40 advantage.

Carolina toughened up on defense and chipped away offensively. John Henson hit a big baseline jumper from the left side with 6:20 to go to cut the lead to 50-46. After four straight free throws by Tyler Zeller tied the score at 50, Henson drove the lane for a layup at the end of the shot clock to give Carolina a 52-50 edge with 3:12 to go. It would be the last basket the Heels scored.

UVA tied it on free throws but it was Carolina's free throws over the last 2:27 that won the game. The Heels hit 10 of 12 free throws to hold off the Cavs. Dexter Strickland was five of six during the stretch including four straight in the last 10 seconds after Virginia had cut the lead to two.

A couple of defensive plays - a block by Harrison Barnes and tough defense by Zeller on a drive to the basket - in the last minute helped the Heels survive.

Carolina came out hot and it looked as if the Heels would run away with it after Reggie Bullock drained a three from the corner to give them a 22-13 edge. But turnovers and cold shooting let Virginia, who hit four threes the rest of the half, back in it. The Cavs outscored the Heels 24-8 in the last 10 minutes of the half to take command.

Williams said it was a matter of turning the ball over and not covering anybody. But the Heels righted that ship in the second half. In fact, UNC did not turn the ball over once in the last 13 minutes and finished with its fewer turnovers of the season at eight whie holding the Cavs to 26 percent shooting.

KT Harrell led Virginia, now 10-6 and 1-1 in the league, with 13 points. Zeller was the lone Tar Heel in double figures with 12.

Carolina, now 11-4 and 1-0 in the ACC, host Virginia Tech Thursday at 9 p.m.

Photo Gallery

Check out the other game articles.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on by clicking here.

© 2009 CB3media Cary, NC