No. 4 Virginia must bounce back at No. 8 North Carolina
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Virginia follows its showdown with second-ranked Duke with another monumental clash, this time on the road Monday against No. 8 North Carolina.
No. 4 Virginia (20-2, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has slipped to third place in the ACC behind co-leaders Duke and North Carolina (19-4, 9-1).
This will be the only Virginia-North Carolina meeting of the regular season.
North Carolina holds a seven-game winning streak after Saturday's 88-85 overtime survival against visiting Miami, but Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said he understands the challenge for his team.
"They were great last year, they've been great this year," Williams said of the Cavaliers. "They've got three guys on the perimeter that are as good as any three guys on the perimeter in the country. They know their strengths. They play to their strengths."
For Virginia, it's a matter of turning the corner and recovering from the 81-71 home loss to Duke.
"Every game in the ACC is important," Virginia reserve center Jay Huff said. "Every game in the college basketball season is important. It will make it big so that we don't lose two in a row."
Virginia gave up an unusually high number of points to Duke, which made 13 shots from 3-point range. The season-high 81 points allowed seemed to shake the Cavaliers at times, something that coach Tony Bennett said probably took a mental toll as well.
But the Cavaliers realize they can't deviate from the script that has been so largely successful.
"The formula doesn't change," Bennett said. "(We'll make) little adjustments here and there. We don't have much time. We're going to play Carolina. Hopefully be more ready. That will be a great challenge, too."
North Carolina is aware that Virginia prefers a more deliberate pace, so cranking up the tempo will be one of the areas of emphasis for the Tar Heels.
"They really play their style of basketball," North Carolina guard Cameron Johnson said. "It kind of changes the whole dynamic of the game and it makes every possession matter just a little bit more."
North Carolina received 33 points Saturday against Miami from point guard Coby White, who will present a challenge for the Cavaliers. Plus, North Carolina forward Luke Maye averaged 25.5 points in two outings last week.
North Carolina is 9-1 in ACC play for the first time in Williams' 16 seasons as coach.
Even with the extra five minutes of overtime against Miami, North Carolina's 10 turnovers were its fewest in a conference game this season.
Virginia had guard Ty Jerome back for the Duke game after he hadn't played in more than a week because of a back strain. He seemed to go through the game without a hitch, though the quick turnaround could be a factor in his readiness for Monday night.
"Glad that he has been able to be healthy," Bennett said. "Hopefully, he'll be all right."
Virginia also has concerns because of forward Mamadi Diakite's head injury suffered in the first half Saturday night when he collided with teammate De'Andre Hunter. Diakite didn't play in the second half.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 11, 2019