Tar Heels Look To Bounce Back From First ACC Loss, Visit Cavs

North Carolina will try to take better care of the basketball when it looks to rebound from its first ACC defeat

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough

Jan. 18, 2006

North Carolina will try to take better care of the basketball when it looks to rebound from its first ACC defeat in a visit to Virginia on Thursday night.

The No. 24 Tar Heels (10-3, 2-1) had won a season-high four in a row going into Saturday's matchup with Miami at the Smith Center, but turned the ball over 17 times in an 81-70 loss. North Carolina also entered the contest outrebounding opponents by a conference-best 9.5 per game, but was beaten 42-33 on the boards.

"It was a total breakdown of what we like to think we practice every day," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "We didn't guard people off the bounce, we didn't rebound the basketball, didn't keep them off the offensive boards, didn't stop them from penetrating ..."

North Carolina won its first two conference games, scoring the final 13 points to beat North Carolina State 82-69 on Jan. 7 and holding off Virginia Tech 64-61 on Jan. 10. The win over the Hokies, though, was a sign of things to come, as North Carolina committed a season-worst 25 turnovers.

"That's happened to us the last couple of games," Tar Heels junior guard Wes Miller said. "We were fortunate at Virginia Tech that we turned the ball over that many times and still won. We weren't so fortunate (against Miami). We've got to take care of the ball ... it's something we've got to work on."

Forward Tyler Hansbrough was one of the few bright spots for North Carolina against Miami. The freshman, one of three that start for the Tar Heels, had a team-high 25 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, and didn't commit a turnover.

Hansbrough is averaging 17.7 points and has led the Tar Heels in scoring in 11 of 13 games, but didn't get enough help to carry his team past the Hurricanes.

"We just have to put it behind us," said North Carolina senior forward David Noel, who had a team-leading 10 rebounds. "We just have to understand that bad things happened (against Miami) and turn away from it. ... We can't let this game hamper our whole season."

The Tar Heels have won two straight and four of their last five matchups with Virginia (8-6, 2-2), including a 110-76 rout in the teams' last meeting at Charlottesville on Jan. 29. The loss was the third-worst at home for the Cavaliers in their history.

Virginia is 0-2 against ranked opponents this season, losing 80-69 to then-No. 10 Gonzaga on Dec. 17 and 81-51 to then-No. 9 Arizona on Nov. 27.

The Cavs are coming off a wild 54-49 road victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday. Sophomore Adrian Joseph's 3-pointer with 44 seconds to play broke a tie as Virginia closed the game with a 10-0 run over the final 3:39.

Sean Singletary scored the last five points in his own run of 13 straight Virginia points to tie it before Joseph hit his third 3 of the game.

"I think the sky's the limit for our team because we're a real young team," Singletary, a sophomore, said. "For us to come into a hostile environment with veteran players going against us, that's a big win."

Singletary leads Virginia with a team-high 18.0 points and 4.9 assists per game, while junior J.R. Reynolds averages 14.8 points.

Virginia hasn't defeated North Carolina since Feb. 24, 2004, when the Cavs won 74-72 at Charlottesville.

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