Virginia-North Carolina Preview


North Carolina is trying to move on.

No. 19 Virginia would like to add to the those frustrations, again.

Fresh off a stunning loss at the buzzer, the No. 5 Tar Heels will try to avoid their longest skid at the Smith Center on Saturday since the Cavaliers last visited two years ago.

UNC (20-4, 7-2 ACC) appeared to be on its way to extending its record home winning streak to 32 games Wednesday, but lost 85-84 to No. 10 Duke as Austin Rivers hit a 3 as time expired. The Tar Heels led by as many as 13 in the second half, and 10 with 2:38 to play.

"I think once the emotions came down for everybody, we realized it's not the end of the world," said guard Kendall Marshall, who had 14 points and eight assists. "We're going to be fine. It's just a matter of focusing on the next game."

Coach Roy Williams wants his team to learn something from the defeat, which has left them in a three-way tie for first in the ACC with the Blue Devils and No. 15 Florida State.

"The only good you can take from it is to become more determined," Williams said. "You ought to be ticked off. You ought to be flat-out ticked off and that's the best language I can use. If you start wallowing in the sorrow for yourself and feeling frickin' sorry for yourself, you ought to just go home.

"My team better by god come back and decide they're going to be better."

That may mean more scoring from the backcourt, specifically Marshall. The sophomore leads the ACC with 9.8 assists per game, but is scoring just 6.8 points.

Marshall's performance may be key since freshman guard P.J. Hairston is out with a sore left foot. He's averaging 6.6 points, but has managed just two over the last three games.

Marshall will try to continue getting the ball to forwards Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller - North Carolina's scoring leaders at 17.7 and 15.6 points per game, respectively. They combined for 48 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday.

While the Tar Heels are trying to put that defeat behind them, the Cavaliers are looking to win at Chapel Hill for the second consecutive visit.

They won 75-60 on Jan. 21, 2010, during a four-game home skid for UNC.

North Carolina, though, returned the favor at Virginia on Jan. 8, 2011, winning 62-56 in the lone matchup last season. The Tar Heels have won seven of the last eight overall.

Virginia has won four of five, and is trying to build on Wednesday's 68-44 rout over Wake Forest. The Cavaliers forced 17 turnovers and held the Demon Deacons to 34.1 percent from the field.

"They were efficient," coach Tony Bennett said. "The ball was moving from side to side. Guys were screening and getting people open. The looks were there. I thought they played together really on one accord. Same thing defensively. That's what you hope for. That's why you practice hard and prepare.

"When it all comes together, it's nice to see."

Mike Scott leads Virginia with 17.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, but the senior forward has been even better over the last five games. He's averaging 18.8 points in that span after getting 19 and tying a school record Wednesday by making all nine of his field goals.

Scott had 11 points in the last visit to Chapel Hill.