Heels look to rebound vs. Virginia

- Inside Carolina
Posted Jan 24, 2004


At least seventh-ranked North Carolina doesn’t have to chew on Thursday’s 2nd half meltdown at Florida State very long. Virginia invades the Smith Center Saturday at noon (ESPN) to face a Tar Heels team desperately in need of an ACC win to get back in the thick of the conference race.

UNC (11-4, 1-3 ACC) will try to use its second game in less than 40 hours to rinse the bad taste from its collective mouths following a 90-81 overtime loss to the Seminoles, in which the Tar Heels blew a 24-point lead.

“It’s going to be a long, long year if we keep playing like this,” said Rashad McCants, who leads the ACC in scoring against conference opponents with 20.8 points per game. “It’s a mystery to me how we can jump on teams in the first half and have our foot on their throat and they come back up and they take the lead. I don't understand it.”

After losing its first three ACC games, Virginia (12-4, 2-3 ACC) has won two in a row. The Cavaliers defeated Clemson 61-50 in their last outing Tuesday night.

While the Tar Heels began the week as the nation's top scoring team (88.4 ppg), Virginia hangs its hat on its defense. In their last two contests, the Cavaliers have held opponents to 31.7-percent shooting from the field.

“We’re not going to win relying on our offense to outscore people,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. “We have to defend and not let teams go crazy against us.”

This will likely be the last game that Jawad Williams will wear his plastic protective facemask, according UNC doctors.

The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with Virginia, 115-46, and hold a 16-2 edge over the Cavs in the Smith Center. Overall, Carolina is 58-5 against Virginia in games played in Chapel Hill, with the losses coming in 1911, 1973, 1981, 2000 and 2002.


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