CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis says that he’s not a “superstitious guy” but he’s planning on making another trip to the grocery store to secure another box of Pete Nance’s favorite cookies: Lemon Oreos.
Davis gifted Nance with a package of them during a meeting this week, and all the fifth-year forward did afterwards was turn in one of the best shooting performances of his career in a crucial game for the Tar Heels.
“I’m serious. I’ll bring them to Tallahassee,” Davis joked. “If that works, let’s do it. Let’s try it.”
Nance scored 22 points as the Tar Heels secured an important win, defeating No. 6 Virginia 71-63 on Saturday night.
“Pete started us off and was really hot from 3, and I’m just really happy for him,” Davis said.
For UNC (18-11, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) the victory is a much-needed boost to its NCAA Tournament resume as it counts as a Quadrant 1 win, the first of the season for the Tar Heels. It was also UNC’s first home win over an AP top 10-ranked team since March 9, 2019.
Nance shot 7 of 10 from the floor and was a perfect 4 of 4 from behind the arc. It’s the most 3-pointers the fifth-year forward has made in ACC play, and Nance also added two assists and four blocks.
“His ability to stretch it, and then he can also go inside – he’s tall, man,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Nance. “He filled in the way (Brady Manek) did last year. When they can stretch you out and all of a sudden the floor opens up, that changes their dynamics.”
Armando Bacot chipped in 11 points for UNC, Caleb Love had 10, and R.J. Davis notched the fourth double-double of his career with 16 points and 10 boards.
In its second straight defeat, Virginia (21-6, 13-5) was powered by Jayden Gardner’s 19 points and 12 rebounds. Armaan Franklin added 14 points.
After trading baskets with Virginia for the first five minutes of play, resulting in an early 8-8 tie, the Tar Heels dominated for the rest of the period. UNC outscored the Cavaliers 34-18 through the remainder of the first half, creating a comfortable 16-point halftime advantage.
Virginia: Because of No. 13 Miami’s loss to Florida State, this game was an opportunity for the Cavaliers to take at least a share of first place in the ACC. Instead, Pitt has sole possession of the top spot in the conference. After scoring a season-low 48 points in its loss to Boston College on Wednesday, Virginia’s offense somewhat struggled again.
“You just keep knocking,” Bennett said. “We tried to make little adjustments, and I told the guys, there’s a lot of basketball left.”
North Carolina: UNC took a major step forward in making a case for an NCAA Tournament bid. Quadrant 1 wins are crucial when the committee considers at-large resumes, and UNC was previously 0-9 against those teams. After shooting a season-low 33% from the floor on Wednesday, the Tar Heels beat Virginia with sharp shooting, making shots at a 47% clip.
POLL, SEEDING IMPLICATIONS
Virginia is likely to take a tumble in the next AP Top 25 Poll after losing two straight. But the Cavaliers won’t be alone, as No. 7 Arizona, No. 8 Texas and No. 9 Baylor also suffered losses in the past week.
North Carolina is still jockeying for seeding in the ACC Tournament. And UNC needs to win all the games it can to keep improving its resume for March.
Virginia has always struggled mightily in Chapel Hill and is now 9-68 all-time there. … UNC blocked eight shots, the third-most it’s had in a game this season. … The Tar Heels won without scoring any points off turnovers or any fast break points.
Virginia: Hosts Clemson on Tuesday night.
North Carolina: Visits Florida State on Monday night.