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No. 25 Virginia’s struggles against the elite persists in loss to No. 7 North Carolina
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Despite being outrebounded, battling foul trouble and missing its last 11 3-pointers, the University of Virginia still had an opportunity to win Saturday. Three of them, in fact.
But North Carolina found a way to quiet a sellout crowd with a 54-51 victory that leaves Virginia in the ACC’s second tier. The Wahoos are now 0-4 against the league’s top three teams, and 8-2 against the rest.
A partisan crowd spent most of the second half riding the officials, who whistled the ‘Hoos early and often. Virginia’s three active forwards had seven fouls at the end of the first half.
Mike Scott, the team’s leading scorer, was whistled for his fourth with 11 minutes remaining in the game. He went for a rebound with his arm, and UNC’s John Henson snapped his head back as if he had been elbowed.
“I didn’t know I was that strong,” Scott joked after the game.
“Right now, it wouldn’t be wise for me to comment on the calls,” U.Va. coach Tony Bennett said.
The Tar Heels begged to differ.
Despite the foul disparity, Virginia once again rode giant-slayer Jontel Evans in the second half, keeping the margin tight the whole way. Ultimately, though, the 3-point shooting went cold at the wrong time.
With a minute to play and the ‘Hoos down by one, Scott missed an open look from the right corner.
There was a 10-second difference between the shot and game clocks, and Bennett opted to play defense instead of fouling. Virginia held until the final seconds, when Tyler Zeller made a pump-fake on Akil Mitchell, got the forward to bite and threw home a dunk to make it a three-point game.
“I made a huge mistake there,” Mitchell said. “We’ve worked on that all year. I figured the shot clock was running out, so I contested the shot and got a little too anxious.”
Scott echoed that thought, adding that “we know he’s not a threat from out there. Let him shoot.”
By Tammy Bruce
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