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No. 23 Virginia's defense shuts down No. 5 UNC

By
Brandon Lloyd, The Sports Xchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- When North Carolina scored just 45 points in a 12-point loss at No. 2 Syracuse three years ago, many thought it was one of the worst offensive performances in school history, and definitely in the Roy Williams era.

On Monday night, the Tar Heels fell victim again on the road, this time to a Virginia team that was hungry to avenge a 24-point loss to North Carolina just nine days ago in Chapel Hill.

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No. 23 Virginia held No. 5 North Carolina to its lowest point total in 38 years as the Cavaliers knocked off the Tar Heels 53-43 at John Paul Jones Arena.

"I think it started with how we got into the ball," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of his team's defensive effort. "We were active, we pressured the ball and we didn't turn it over so they didn't get many run-outs."

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Virginia gave the ball away just four times and got 13 offensive rebounds, leading to 14 second-chance points -- a feat the Tar Heels usually accomplish.

"The most aggressive team won tonight and the best team won tonight," Williams said. "Their defense was a lot stronger and more aggressive than our offense. We get 10 offensive rebounds and they get 13. That's not dominating at all by us, and that's what we have to do."

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Despite shooting just 32.2 percent from the field for the game, the Cavaliers used their strongest defensive effort of the season to post their biggest win of the year.

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"The crowd was incredible," Bennett said. "That's one of the better ones we've had, and they saw us lay it on the line. Some people don't like that, the way it was low-scoring, but that's the only way we are going to beat a team like Carolina."

Freshman Kyle Guy scored a game-high 17 points to lead three Cavaliers in double figures. London Perrantes added 13 points, and Devon Hall scored 11.

Perrantes' long-range jumper with 3:13 to play in the game gave the Cavaliers a 10-point lead, and North Carolina was never on top again. Virginia knocked down 10 3-pointers on the night, including three by Perrantes and five by Guy.

"Perrantes makes two in a row," Williams said. "He's a heck of a kid and a heck of a competitor. I really enjoy watching him play when he's playing somebody else."

ACC player of the year candidate Justin Jackson was held to seven points as North Carolina (25-6, 13-4 ACC) shot 35.4 percent from the field and tuned the ball over 14 times, leading to 18 Virginia points. Joel Berry was the only Tar Heel to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points.

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North Carolina opened the game on a 7-0 run after Virginia missed its first four shots. The Cavaliers (20-9, 10-7) rebounded and used a 12-0 run to fire up the home crowd.

Despite shooting just 33 percent from the field during the first 20 minutes, Virginia forced North Carolina into 12 turnovers and took a 27-23 lead into the locker room. Guy led the way with nine first-half points, and Hall added seven.

The Tar Heels shot 47 percent from the field in the half but allowed 19 points off 12 turnovers as they struggled to handle the Cavaliers' defense. Jackson put in five first-half points to lead North Carolina.

NOTES: Virginia shot a season-worst 2 of 20 from 3-point range in a 65-41 loss to North Carolina earlier in the month. ... Virginia snapped its first four-game losing streak since 2010 with a 70-55 win over N.C. State on Saturday. ... North Carolina has clinched at least a share of its 31st ACC regular-season title. ... The Tar Heels entered the game averaging 22 free throws on the season, but they were held to just seven attempts Monday. ... The 43 points scored by North Carolina were the fewest in the Roy Williams era.. Virginia closes out the regular season at home against Pittsburgh on Saturday, while North Carolina hosts rival Duke in its regular-season finale Saturday.

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