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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
C.L. Brown

UNC basketball falls to Virginia in ACC quarterfinal; NCAA hopes rest with committee

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina coach Hubert Davis came to Greensboro for the ACC tournament believing the Tar Heels did not have to win four games in four days in order to claim the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

He’s about to find out if he was right.

The No. 7 seed Tar Heels fell to No. 2 seed Virginia 68-59 in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Now, Davis and the Heels will have to sweat out Selection Sunday to see if they will keep playing in the postseason.

R.J. Davis, who finished with a game-high 24 points, topped 20 points for the seventh time this season and the first time since scoring 23 against Miami on Feb. 13. While baskets seemingly came easy to him, it was a lot tougher for the rest of the Heels, who finished just 35.8 percent from the field.

Davis made seven of his 10 shots while the rest of the team combined to make just seven of their first 26 field goal attempts. That included guard Caleb Love who missed his first seven shots before making his first field goal on a 3-pointer with 8:54 left in the game.

The Cavaliers have been prone to scoring droughts this season, and for a long time seemed immune from it in the second half. UVA shot 78 percent from the field (11 of 14) through the first 11 minutes after halftime and built a 51-41 lead.

The frontcourt duo of Armaan Franklin and Jayden Gardner were particularly effective in the second half combining for 22 points and helping UVA enjoy a 28-20 points in the paint advantage.

But with a 55-47 lead with 5:51, the baskets seemed to close up as the Heels clawed back into the game.

Caleb Love made his second 3-pointer that started an 8-2 spurt that cut it to 57-55 on R.J. Davis’ three point play with 2:03 left.

But the Heels would not get any closer.

Puff Johnson, Love and Davis misfired on three straight possessions while attempting 3-pointers and Virginia made enough free throws to put the game away.

UNC senior forward Armando Bacot started the game and played 21 minutes after being limited to just 18 minutes after suffering an ankle injury in Wednesday’s win over Boston College.

Bacot didn’t seem hobbled by the injury early on as he battled through physical play in the post. But as the game progressed in the second half, he had a slight limp to his gait. Once Bacot exited the game with 10:09 left, he never played again.

Whether it was his ankle or just UVA’s backline defense, he was effectively nullified as an offensive weapon. Bacot scored just four points and one of his baskets came on an offensive rebound after a D’Marco Dunn miss.

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