Published February 11, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For Virginia coach Tony Bennett, the message after falling at North Carolina was simple: rebound better.
The fifth-ranked Tar Heels dominated the No. 19 Cavaliers on the boards and got plenty of extra looks in Saturday's 70-52 win. It was a big reason why a Virginia team that hadn't lost a game by more than three points all year ended up with its first lopsided loss.
"For us to have a chance in a game like this, you've got to do a better job on the glass," Bennett said. "It was alarming how many second shots they got, or third shots, on a possession. They're a terrific offensive rebounding team, but you can't allow that many opportunities."
North Carolina finished with a 52-32 rebounding advantage, with Harrison Barnes grabbing 11 and John Henson getting 10 more. The Tar Heels also grabbed 23 offensive boards and scored 23 second-chance points, their best total in a league game this year.
As a result, North Carolina got 13 more shots than Virginia, which were key in a game in which the Tar Heels shot just 35 percent.
"We just should have kept them off the boards," senior Mike Scott said. "We can't have games like this where we get beat on the boards. They just kept offensive rebounding. It was killing us."
Tyler Zeller had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead North Carolina.
Barnes added 14 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who regrouped from Wednesday night's stunning loss to rival Duke on a last-second 3-pointer. North Carolina blew the game open with a 22-5 run that started early in the second half, with Zeller scoring seven points during the spurt that pushed the Tar Heels to a 15-point lead with about 6½ minutes left.
The Cavaliers (19-5, 6-4) got no closer than 11 points again, with the Tar Heels avoiding any kind of repeat of blowing a double-digit lead in the final 2½ minutes against the Blue Devils.
Scott scored 18 points to lead the Cavaliers, who shot 36 percent. Jontel Evans added 12.
North Carolina needed the win to move past the sting from Wednesday night's loss. It was particularly true for Zeller, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds in that game. But his frustrating final minute included a pair of missed free throws, accidentally tipping a ball into the Duke basket on a rebound attempt and defending the game-winning shot.
The 7-foot senior went 9-for-16 from the field despite facing constant double teams from the Cavaliers.
North Carolina was short-handed for this one with freshman reserve P.J. Hairston out with a sore left foot. Freshman forward James Michael McAdoo added nine points and seven rebounds off the bench for UNC.