Re-visiting UNC’s season-ending loss to UVA in ACC Tournament

Throughout much of last year, the UNC men’s basketball team was on NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch.

A run to the 2022 NCAA Championship Game had North Carolina ranked as the Preseason Number One team, an expectation never lived up to. The Tar Heels brought in Pete Nance to try and replace Brady Manek’s production, but he also didn’t play up to his incoming hype.

A disappointing regular-season forced UNC to, essentially, win the ACC Tournament for a shot at the big dance. North Carolina handled Boston College with ease in the second round, but ran into Virginia in the quarterfinals.

UVA controlled UNC in a defensive battle, winning 68-59 and sending the Heels packing.

North Carolina has a golden change to avenge this loss, playing the Cavaliers on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. ET in Charlottesville, but let’s re-visit the 2023 heart-breaker first.

This game wasn’t all Cavaliers, contrary to what the final score might show. North Carolina trailed by just a point at halftime, exactly the kind of position it needed to be in against a slow, methodical UVA squad.

The second half wasn’t pretty, as the Tar Heels finished the game shooting a hair under 36 percent. RJ Davis carried the UNC offense with 24 points on eight made shots and four free throws, but Caleb Love shot a horrendous 3-of-15 from the field and Armando Bacot slugged through 21 minutes on a bad ankle.

UVA rode a balanced scoring attack led by Jayden Gardner (17 points), Reece Beekman (15) and Armaan Franklin (14). The Cavaliers ultimately decided this game in points off turnovers, earning a 14-2 advantage over North Carolina in this department.

The Tar Heels are in a much better position this year, owning a tiebreaker with Duke atop the ACC. If UNC scores early and often against UVA, which is coming off its worst loss of the season, it’ll be able to control the tempo and win this crucial matchup.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire