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Off the cuff: Despite shooting only 35 percent, it looked as if the Tar Heels might grind out a tough home win against No. 4 Virginia.

The Heels had seemingly overcome an injury to Nassir Little in the first half to erase a 36-27 deficit to go up 53-46 with under nine minutes to play.

Carolina had gone on a 17-3 run but the Heels committed a couple of shot clock violations, Cam Johnson got hurt and Kyle Guy hit three three-pointers to do in the Heels.

They say football is a game of inches but, on this night, basketball was a game of inches.

Coby White was inches away from securing a loose ball late in the half that would have ended in a layup but the shot clock expired on Virginia before he had possession.

Late in the game, it appeared that White had gotten off a wild three at the end of a shot clock but officials ruled that the ball wasn't out of his hands when clock expired, negating a key basket.

No one seemed to argue the call and TV announcers agreed that the clock had gone to zero before it was off White's fingertips. But I believe the basket should have counted. The clock not only has to go to zero but the horn has to sound.

In other words, there could have been 0.9 seconds, 0.8 seconds, 0.7 seconds, 0.6 seconds, 0.5 seconds, 0.4 seconds, 0.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds or 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

Everyone seemed to be going by a single digit zero on the clock, rather than listening for the horn. If they aren't going to listen for the horn, the shot clocks really should have four digits - or at least three - on them rather than just two.

Virginia 69, Tar Heels 61
With game on the line, Heels go cold

North Carolina, down by seven at the half and up by as many as seven in the second half, went cold over the last four minutes of a tie game as Virginia finished the game on a 12-2 run to defeat the Heels 69-61 in Chapel Hill. (2/11)

Two plays on offense and two plays on defense turned the tide after Carolina had built a 55-48 lead with less than eight minutes to go.

First, UNC's Cam Johnson took a pass but came down on an opponent's foot and coughed up the ball. With an injured Johnson writhing on the court, Ty Jerome hit an open three from the right corner to tie the game at 55-55.

Second, Coby White, not realizing the shot clock was running down, fired up a wild three from Walter Davis land and it went in to apparently give the Heels a 62-59 lead. But officials reviewed it and ruled that the ball was still on White's fingertips when the shot clock expired.

Third, with Virginia up 61-59, the Cavs' Kyle Guy got away from Kenny Williams and drilled an open three from the right corner.

Fourth, Guy got loose from Williams again and hit a three-pointer to give the Cavs a 67-61 lead with 1:10 left.

The Tar Heels went one of 11 over the last four minutes while Virginia hit six of seven shots during the run.

"Guy made two big shots for them and we were getting stagnant - taking bad shots and turning the ball over," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "They made the plays down the stretch and we didn't."

Carolina was hindered by injuries as Johnson missed key moments near the end of the game while Nassir Little played only two minutes in the first half when he went down with an ankle injury. The Tar Heels were already without Sterling Manley, who missed his 12th game in a row, and Leaky Black, who missed his fourth game.

With those four out, Carolina really needed their point guard, Coby White, to come through. He didn't. White hit only six of 19 shots, including just three of 11 from beyond the arc. He also had only two assists but three turnovers. He did lead Carolina scorers with 17 points.

"I love him but I'm not going to praise him for that (the 17 points)," Coach Williams said. "I don't think he played very well."

He added that he wasn't bragging on anyone as Carolina shot only 35 percent from the field, compared to 53 percent for Virginia. Luke Maye hit only two of 10 shots and Kenny Williams shot only three of 10.

North Carolina had won seven in a row before falling to 19-5 and 9-2 in the conference. With the win, Virginia ties the Heels for second in the league with an identical 9-2 mark.

The Tar Heels play at Wake Forest Saturday at noon.

Box score

UNC's Cam Johnson, left, was injured during key minutes down the stretch. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

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