North Carolina shook off a second half scoring drought to emerge with a 78-68 win over Virginia Tech Monday at the Dean E. Smith Center.
All five starters scored in double figures as the Tar Heels (13-6, 5-3) shook off back-to-back road losses of more than 20 points.
The Heels played without sophomore forward Dawson Garcia, who missed the game while tending to a family illness in his native Minnesota. The Heels played two other games without Garcia in the rotation when he missed the Notre Dame and Virginia games with a concussion.
Armando Bacot recorded his 10th straight double-double by halftime. He is the first Carolina player to achieve the feat since Billy Cunningham in 1965. Doug Moe is the only other player in program history to record such a streak.
Bacot scored 12 of UNC’s first 14 points and was perfect on his first six shot attempts. His first miss didn’t come until 12:11 left in the half. But he proceeded to miss his next five shots and didn’t score again until the second half. Bacot finished with 14 points and 19 rebounds before fouling out with 2:29 remaining.
Here’s what we learned from the Heels :
Feasting at home
Carolina hasn’t played a two-possession game at home all season. Its closest game was a 94-87 win over Brown in the second game of the season. Things looked headed that way against the Hokies when UNC had an eight minute stretch between made baskets and began the second half making just 6 of 25 shots from the floor.
Brady Manek’s 3-pointer that made the score 57-52 and end a five-minute scoring drought was the spark they needed to pull away. Manek led the way to close the game with a dunk off a Caleb Love miss and his fourth 3-pointer with 3:45 left to match their biggest lead of the game at 65-54. Manek finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Heels’ average margin of victory in their 10 home wins was 17 points entering Monday night’s game.
The final score and margin of victory belies the fact that this was a gritty win for UNC. It wasn’t a perfect game like they have tended to play at home. It was ugly offensively at times.
Carolina’s win marked the third straight game it has shot under 40 percent from the field. The Heels shot just 36.5 percent from the field against the Hokies, which marked a season-low for a home game. The previous low was 39 percent in their win over Elon.
Carolina has generally got an offensive burst from the bench all season. But playing without Garcia and his 9.0-point average made it more difficult to depend on bench scoring. Hubert Davis only used three reserves all game.
Guard Kerwin Walton’s first shot attempt hit the side of the backboard and he didn’t attempt another the rest of the game.
Forward Justin McKoy was 0-for-3 but did get to the free throw line on a play that landed double technical fouls on Keve Aluma and Bacot. McKoy finished with two points.
Forward Puff Johnson played four minutes in the first half and didn’t take a shot.
With UNC playing the first of four games in nine days, Davis had hinted that it wasn’t feasible for starters to log 35 minutes. But R.J. Davis had 38, Love was at 35 and Leaky Black, Bacot and Manek all finished with 34 minutes each.