Cole Anthony, No. 7 UNC's Struggles Continue in 56-47 Loss vs. No. 5 Virginia

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2019

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

No. 5 Virginia got back on track with a 56-47 men's basketball win over No. 7 North Carolina.

Both teams were coming off blowout losses in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, providing little time to regroup before a Top 10 conference matchup. The offenses—which have been a problem all season—remained quiet for each side Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena.

However, Mamadi Diakite was able to make a difference for the Tar Heels, scoring 12 points to help the visitors escape with a tough win to remain undefeated in two ACC games. The smothering defense also held UNC under 50 points for the second game in a row, keying as much as a 17-point lead.

Virginia is 8-1 despite playing with a relatively inexperienced rotation.

North Carolina (6-3) suffered its third loss in four games as star freshman Cole Anthony was held to 12 points.

    

Notable Stats

  • Cole Anthony, G, UNC: 12 points, four rebounds, two steals
  • Armando Bacot, F, UNC: 11 points, two blocks
  • Mamadi Diakite, F, UVA: 12 points, three rebounds
  • Tomas Woldetensae, G, UVA: 11 points, two steals

     

Virginia Wins Its Way

Anyone who has seen a Virginia game over the past few years knows this team likes to win ugly, and it certainly wasn't a pretty sight in the first half.

The Cavaliers led 24-18 at halftime in a game that didn't look like it included two Top 10 teams.

However, things were going just fine for the home team as it built a lead and remained ahead on the scoreboard.

The second half also saw Virginia round into form on the offensive end.

The Hoos earned easy trips to the free-throw line and converted from there, also knocking down the outside shots when left open. The team finished 6-of-17 from three-point range while outscoring Carolina 18-12 from the charity stripe.

It was an efficient way to get on the board, eventually keying the 10-0 second-half run that decided the game.

The defending national champions won't always win beauty contests but the squad knows how to win games.

       

Cole Anthony Can't Carry UNC Offense

As has been the case for much of the season, Cole Anthony represented most of the offense for North Carolina.

The guard finished with 12 points, making the team's only three-pointer. The problem is that the freshman got in trouble trying to carry the offense when no one else stepped up.

He finished 4-of-15 shooting while turning it over six times in a game where he had zero assists.

This type of inefficiency won't help North Carolina this season, regardless of his talent. 

Of course, he didn't get a whole lot of help from his teammates as the squad shot just 37 percent from the field and 1-of-14 from three-point range. The first half was especially disappointing with just 18 points.

The second half wasn't much better as the team went over seven minutes between field goals.

Armando Bacot came alive down the stretch, scoring eight of his 11 points after halftime.

After injuring his ankle last game, the forward got a surprise start and was a key part of the Tar Heels attack against Virginia. Consistent play inside from the freshman would be a huge boost to Roy Williams' squad going forward.

In the meantime, it wasn't enough in this one as Williams must go back to the drawing board to fix the problems with this offense.

     

What's Next?

Both teams will now return to the nonconference portion of the schedule after a tough stretch of games. Virginia will host Stony Brook on Dec. 18, while North Carolina gets a week off before a home game against Wofford next Sunday.

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