- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Roy Williams sounded like a coach whose team had just been blown out.

“I think they were the actors and we were the reactors all night,” the North Carolina coach said after the No. 7 Tar Heels lost 79-74 at No. 3 Virginia on Saturday night, the Cavaliers’ 19th straight victory at home.

“Down the stretch, Virginia had a great purpose,” he said.

And still, the Tar Heels erased most of an 11-point second-half deficit and pulled within 77-74 with 14 seconds left, a point made moot when they fouled Devon Hall and he hit a pair of free throws to produce the final.

The Cavaliers’ lead came courtesy of a 16-5 run after the Tar Heels had pulled even at 49-all.

“We couldn’t get over the hump,” Williams said. “We got to 49-49 and then a couple of bad possessions and they scored a couple of times after they got offensive rebounds. … They scored more points in the paint without posting anybody up hardly all night long because they drove the ball to the basket.”

Malcolm Brogdon did plenty of that, scoring 26 points, including five in the 16-5 second-half run that broke open a tie game. Anthony Gill added 15 points and London Perrantes had 12 for the Cavaliers (22-6, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who moved within one game of the Tar Heels in the ACC with two regular season games to play.

Joel Berry II led the Tar Heels (23-6, 12-4) with 21 points, including five 3-pointers. Marcus Paige added 13 points and Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson each had 12, but Johnson was scoreless for the last 17 minutes.

“They really dictated the entire game,” Johnson said. “We needed to be able to dictate the play and the players we wanted to play with. They were the ones dictating the entire game and they did what they needed to do.”

The Tar Heels closed to within 77-74 with 14 seconds left on Paige’s 3-pointer. But North Carolina immediately fouled Devon Hall, and he made both free throws give Virginia a little cushion.

Theo Pinson then missed a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left for North Carolina, and the scramble for the rebound killed most of the rest of the clock, ensuring Virginia’s 34th victory in its last 35 home games.

The game was close throughout the first half and the Tar Heels pulled even at 49 on Berry’s putback with just under 14 minutesa remaining. A three-point play by Marial Shayok sparked the 16-5 run for Virginia. Brogdon hit an 18-footer and his third 3-pointer of the game in the burst, and Gill, who had been quiet up until that point with just two baskets, had three straight baskets to end the burst with the Cavaliers ahead 65-54.

Gill scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime.

Virginia used an 11-5 run in the first half to- open its largest lead at 29-21, but the Tar Heels answered immediately with a 14-7 burst that feature three of Berry’s four first-half 3-pointers. A layin by Isaiah Wilkins at the buzzer gave the Cavaliers a 38-35 lead at the intermission.

TIP INS

North Carolina: Has only allowed one opponent to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor this season. … Berry II had a season-high four 3-points in the first half on six attempts.

Virginia: The Cavaliers used nine players in the first half, but the starters played all but 14 minutes.

UP NEXT

North Carolina is at home against Syracuse on Monday night.

Virginia plays at Clemson on Tuesday night.

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Follow Hank on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

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The AP’s college basketball page: www.collegebasketball.ap.org


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