No. 9 Virginia looks to maintain dominance over Tar Heels

University of Virginia Sports

Just imagine how North Carolina might celebrate if the Tar Heels can knock off No. 9 Virginia on Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.

The actions of North Carolina players have been a hot topic this week coming in the aftermath of the team’s most-recent game.

Virginia has been the recipient of much more positive feedback, stretching its winning streak to three games to remain in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s nice, but it’s in the past as well, and we got to keep moving on to these next games and keep winning games,” Virginia guard Trey Murphy III said.

Much of the discussion in the ACC in recent days was about a team that didn’t play a game.

North Carolina forwards Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe were spotted in videos celebrating with other students without wearing masks. As a result, just a few hours before Monday night’s scheduled tip off between Miami and North Carolina, the game in Chapel Hill was called off.

That spawned a series of announcements and statements regarding the top. From North Carolina players and managers, a statement read in part: “A number of players and managers — not just the ones shown on the video that was seen — got together to celebrate our win at Duke. Our intention was to celebrate privately within our group. Unfortunately, we allowed several friends who are not members of the team to join the gathering. We were inside and not wearing masks, which were mistakes.”

Until then, North Carolina had avoided being the cause of postponements this season.

“We have worked too hard for eight months doing the right things to make those kinds of mistakes at this point in the season,” the players and managers said in the statement. “We are hopeful we will be able to play again soon …”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who has publicly pointed out that he’s being extra cautious during the pandemic, wasn’t pleased.

“I appreciate the players voicing their apology. They made a mistake. They’ve been fantastic for more than eight months in the way they have dealt with the whole situation with the virus,” Williams said. “But they realize they did make a mistake, for which they are paying a very significant price.”

North Carolina (12-6, 7-4 ACC) needs to make headway across the final few weeks of the season to be in line for an NCAA Tournament bid. Perhaps the Tar Heels’ best chance for a breakthrough victory comes at Virginia.

The Cavaliers (14-3, 10-1) have had just one slipup in ACC play, failing to protect a lead in a loss at Virginia Tech. In their current three-game win streak, they’ve won road games at North Carolina State and Georgia Tech.

North Carolina scored a season-high point total in the 91-87 victory at Duke. Virginia allows only 59.4 points per game.

Virginia scored a season-low 20 first-half points in an eventual 57-49 victory Wednesday night at Georgia Tech. Jay Huff and Sam Hauser had a tough time getting going.

“Other guys had to step up and make some plays,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

Because of the Miami game being postponed, North Carolina is now in line to play four consecutive ACC road games — something it hadn’t done within one season since 1964-65.

Virginia has won the past six meetings with North Carolina, marking the longest win streak in the series for the Cavaliers since winning the first eight games between the schools from 1911-16. The Tar Heels haven’t won in Charlottesville since 2012.

–Field Level Media

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