CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A quick look at fifth-ranked North Carolina’s 70-52 win over No. 20 Virginia at the Smith Center on Saturday:
What it means: UNC still knows how to recover from adversity. Three days after losing a double-digit lead and the game to rival Duke in the final minutes, the Tar Heels pulled away from Virginia in the second half. Perhaps fittingly, they were led by senior Tyler Zeller, who faced the most adversity in the Duke game -- missing two free throws, accidentally tipping in a shot for the Blue Devils, then failing to get a hand up in time to alter Austin Rivers’ game-winning 3-pointer, all within the final 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
He finished with 25 points and nine rebounds Saturday.
How it happened: Despite shooting only 32.3 percent, North Carolina led 35-32 at halftime -- thanks to 14 points and seven rebounds from Zeller and the best stretch of the season for freshman James Michael McAdoo (eight points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist in the first half).
It also helped that Virginia ACC player of the year candidate Mike Scott spent the final nine minutes of the half on the bench with two fouls.
The fifth-year senior opened the second half with a jumper, and with 16 minutes left, Virginia led 41-39. But the Tar Heels countered with a 17-3 run that included seven points from Zeller. Scott scored the Cavs’ first field goal in about six minutes to temporarily halt the run. But then UNC guard Reggie Bullock buried the Tar Heels’ first 3-pointer of the game, giving UNC a 59-46 advantage.
Harrison Barnes added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who shot only 35.3 percent for the game. McAdoo added nine points and seven rebounds.
Scott finished with 18 points for Virginia in 27 minutes.
Number to know: UNC made only one of 10 3-point attempts.
Hubbub: Officials Sean Hull, Tim Kelly and Jamie Luckie got booed as they left the court at halftime after they called a walk on Barnes with 1.3 seconds left, wiping away a 3-pointer. It was near the same spot where Duke’s Seth Curry wasn’t called for a walk Wednesday night before burying a 3 during the Blue Devils' comeback. “He’s not Seth Curry!” a person in the student section yelled after the whistle blew on Barnes.
Injury report: UNC’s shooting guard P.J. Hairston (sore foot) was in a walking boot, while teammate Dexter Strickland, who had reconstructive knee surgery Thursday after injuring it last month, watched from home -- and occasionally tweeted his thoughts.
What’s next: The Tar Heels will play at Miami on Wednesday. Virginia will play at Clemson on Tuesday.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.