CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Tyler Zeller scored 20 points, including a critical dunk with 13.3 seconds left and the shot clock winding down, and No. 7 North Carolina beat No. 25 Virginia 54-51 on Saturday to sweep the season series.
John Henson added 15 points, including 11 in the second half, as the Tar Heels (25-4, 12-2) kept pace with No. 5 Duke for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils beat Virginia Tech 70-65 in overtime Saturday.
Jontel Evans had 13 points and Joe Harris added 12 for Virginia (21-7, 8-6), which played much of the game with leading scorer and ACC player of the year candidate Mike Scott in foul trouble. Scott scored just six points, more than 11 below his average, and missed 10 of 13 shots.
Harrison Barnes had a poor shooting day for the Tar Heels, missing 12 of 15 shots. He scored seven points.
The game was close throughout the second half, with Virginia leading by as many as six points and the Tar Heels taking a 42-41 lead on five consecutive points by P.J. Hairston.
The Cavaliers got the lead back once, at 49-48 with 5:59 to play, but Henson scored on a dunk and Zeller followed a Virginia miss by muscling one in with 4:11 to play, giving North Carolina a 52-49 lead.
Evans' steal and layup with 3:10 to play pulled Virginia within 52-51, and neither team scored again until Zeller got the ball at the right foul line elbow, took two dribbles and slammed it in with 13.3 seconds to play. A 35-footer by Evans at the buzzer hit the shot clock.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Tar Heels and ended Virginia's two-game winning streak.
Virginia led 37-31 after Scott's baseline jumper with 17 minutes to play, but Scott picked up his third foul less than a minute later and went to the bench. The Cavaliers didn't score for more than 4 minutes, but retained the lead as the Tar Heels managed just four free throws.
North Carolina went more than 6 minutes without a field goal, but when Hairston ended that drought with a putback and followed on the next possession with a 3-pointer, they had their first lead of the half at 42-41. The teams traded baskets until Evans scored on a drive and Harris followed with a tip-in for the Cavaliers, giving them a 49-48 lead with 5:59 remaining and firing up a sellout crowd.
But the Cavaliers managed only one more basket the rest of the way.
The Cavaliers led 30-26 at halftime, and got there in a most unusual way — with Scott on the bench with two fouls.
Virginia finished the half on a 20-8 run over the last 8 minutes after Scott went to the bench. It helped that Zeller, who had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, also missed most of that stretch after picking up his second foul. The rest of the Tar Heels were just 3 for 18 from the field.
Sammy Zeglinski had eight points in the burst, including a 26-footer at the halftime buzzer.
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