Rapid Reaction: UNC 82, Virginia Tech 68
January, 19, 2012
By Robbi Pickeral | ESPN.com
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- A quick look at No. 8 North Carolina’s 82-68 victory over Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum on Thursday:
What it means for UNC: A key, effort-filled bounce-back win after its 33-point blowout defeat at Florida State on Saturday – but a possible loss to its starting lineup.
Early in the second half, junior shooting guard Dexter Strickland – the best perimeter defender on the team – had his right knee buckle as he was driving to the basket. He lay on the baseline in obvious pain until he was helped to the bench. He stayed there with his knee iced, then wrapped, for rest of the game, and there was no immediate update on his status.
What it means for Virginia Tech: More frustration. After losing their first three ACC games by a combined nine points, the Hokies fall to 0-4 in ACC play for the first time since 2005-06, when they started 0-6.
How it happened: UNC led 15-9 early when Hokies guard Dorenzo Hudson – 0-for-8 from 3-point-land his previous three outings – connected on a corner 3. He added two more 3s and two free throws to give his team its first lead of the game (20-17). In fact, Hudson didn’t miss all half, making all four of his 3-pointers, a 2-pointer and two free throws for 16 points.
Tech, which made half of its 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, led 44-36 early in the second half on an Erick Green 3-pointer – but then the Hokies went cold. And UNC got hot.
Tar Heels sophomore Harrison Barnes scored the first six points in a 26-2 Tar Heels runaway. The Hokies went more than nine minutes without a field goal, and by the time Robert Brown scored on a 3-pointer, there was no slowing the Tar Heels.
Not with Barnes scoring 21 of his 27 points in the second half. Tyler Zeller added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and John Henson recorded 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Green led the Hokies -- who shot worse than 40 percent for the fourth consecutive game -- with 17 points.
Injury report: Besides Strickland (see above): Virginia Tech starting point guard Green, who sprained his left knee last week and missed the Boston College game, started. UNC reserve guard Desmond Hubert, who sprained his ankle last week and didn’t play against FSU, was in uniform but didn’t play.
Number to know: UNC forwards Zeller (9.2 rebounds per game) and Henson (9.7) began the game averaging better than 9 rebounds apice. The last time UNC finished a season with two players averaging 9 or more rebounds? 1966-67, when Rusty Clark averaged 10.3 and Larry Miller averaged 9.3.
What’s next: UNC has a week off before it plays N.C. State at home next Thursday. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will play at No. 17 Virginia on Sunday.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.