Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Anderson and London Perrantes combined to go for 48 points, 16 assists and six steals as No. 3 Virginia overcame another slow start to beat No. 12 North Carolina, 75-64, in Chapel Hill on Monday night.
The final score won’t give you an accurate representation of just how impressive the Cavaliers were in the second half, when they slowly but surely eviscerated North Carolina’s defense by forcing the Tar Heel big men out onto the perimeter and using their talented perimeter pieces to attack the gaps in the defense. At one point midway through the second half, UVA had turned a 33-32 halftime deficit into a 66-48 lead, a 34-15 run for those scoring at home.
It was an impressive was for the Cavs to bounce back from a disappointing loss on Saturday night, but it was also proof that Virginia didn’t really have much to bounce back from. As I wrote earlier today, nothing about that loss to Duke should make Virginia look bad. It played out exactly how Tony Bennett wanted it to for 35 minutes, and it took a flurry of threes from the Blue Devils — five in five minutes and four in a row in the final 3:22 — to make the comeback happen.
North Carolina is a really good team. They’re not as good as they were supposed to be coming into the season, but they’re legitimately one of the top 15 teams in the country. And Virginia went into their house and embarrassed them in the second half, which is something of a trend for the ‘Hoos. They’ve now won at VCU, at Maryland, at Notre Dame and at North Carolina.
I love Gonzaga as much as anyone. I think Wisconsin and Arizona are both good enough to both beat Kentucky and win a national title.
But Virginia is the second-best team in the country. They were before the loss to Duke, they were after the loss to Duke and they proved it again tonight.
Having said all that, North Carolina doesn’t quite look like themselves right now. Jay Bilas alluded to it on the broadcast. Marcus Paige is banged up. So is Nate Britt. Kennedy Meeks was reportedly sick. And as a team, the Tar Heels looked almost lethargic, a step slower and less intense than usual.
That may be a legitimate excuse, but it’s worth noting that Virginia has a tendency to do that to teams with the way they defend and control possession.
It will be something to keep an eye on for the Tar Heels moving forward.