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Off the cuff: Hard to figure this team. They get Reggie Bullock back and he plays well but the Tar Heels lose. This Virginia team is not better than UNLV.

Of course the Cavaliers were playing at home and the ACC schedule has started so everything is different.

The season is basically chopped into four seasons: Non-conference play, the ACC regular season, the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament.

I expected the Tar Heels to have two losses at this time and they've got four. Is there reason for optimism? Not really except that they've been able to bounce back from poor performances. Is there reason for pessimism? Well, that depends on expectations. This team is still good enough to finish in the top three in the league and then the seasons that people remember begin - the ACC and NCAA tourneys.


UVA 61, Tar Heels 52
Tar Heels take step back as ACC begins

While the North Carolina was taking a step back in their play, Virginia was taking a step back to hit big three pointers during a 61-52 ACC contest in Charlottesville. (1/6)

It was the first time in five trips to the John Paul Jones Arena that the Tar Heels have lost but the third road game in a row this season that the Heels have come up short.

The Cavaliers hit 8 of 14 three-point shots while the Tar Heels, who have shot more threes than any Roy Williams team, was only 5 of 17. This is a UNC team that needs to score from the perimeter and when the other team scores more from the perimeter, you know the Heels are in trouble.

Virginia got half its points in the first half off threes but North Carolina clawed back for a 25-24 halftime lead.

The Tar Heels seemed to have the momentum at the start of the second half as they hit five of their first six shots to take a 36-28 lead. But Virginia's defense (six blocks and six steals) took over during a 10-0 run.

The game was nip and tuck most of the way but the Tar Heels trailed. The Heels closed the deficit one with less than three minutes to play but the Cavaliers put it away with yet another 10-0 run.

With just over two minutes left, the Tar Heels had the ball down 53-50 but Dexter Strickland took and missed a quick, contested jump shot and the game was never closer.

Reggie Bullock, who sat out the UNLV game with a concussion, was the only positive note for the Tar Heels as he went 7 of 9 for 22 points, including four threes. The only other Heel to reach double figures was James Michael McAdoo (10) who also had four turnovers and hit less than half of his shots.

The Tar Heels, now 10-4 and 0-1 in the ACC, hosts surging Miami Thursday.


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