Virginia Tech hangs close, but can't knock off No. 19 North Carolina
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech outrebounded North Carolina and held star Tar Heels point guard Marcus Paige to nine points below his average.
It only added to yet another close loss for the Hokies.
James Michael McAdoo scored 15 points and the No. 19 Tar Heels held on for their 11th straight victory, beating Virginia Tech 60-56 on Saturday.
The loss marked the fourth straight for the Hokies (9-19, 2-14 ACC), who have only beaten Miami in conference play. Virginia Tech lost for the 14th time in its past 15 games, but four of its past five losses have been by seven points or less.
"I'm proud of the guys," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said, breaking down into tears in the postgame news conference. "They could have quit a long time ago. They do what we say to do. They come out and play and make adjustments in the strategy. They play 2-3 zone and slow the game down and go totally away from we're trying to build and the way we want to play.
"For them to execute the game plan and keep fighting and competing, I'm just proud of the guys."
The Hokies kept close tabs on Paige, but they couldn't handle McAdoo, who hit 6 of 9 from the floor. Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC) last winning streak of at least 11 games was when they went 13-0 to start the 2008-09 season.
It didn't come particularly easy against the last-place Hokies. North Carolina led for much of the game, but the Tar Heels' biggest lead was only nine points.
"We knew from the get-go that this was a great team we were going to play," McAdoo said. "Even though their record may not show it, they have the pieces that make up a great team - from outside shooting to big guys that can score the ball. Their 2-3 zone frustrated us at times, but we were still able to come in here and get a win."
After trailing 28-21 at halftime, the Hokies tied the game once in the second half, knotting things at 36 after Devin Wilson's 3-pointer with 12:16 remaining.
But J.P. Tokoto hit a 3-pointer for the Tar Heels to end the run, and North Carolina did not trail again.
The Hokies cut the lead to 42-40 on a basket by Jarell Eddie with 8:54 remaining. But North Carolina answered again, this time with seven straight points. McAdoo scored the last two points on a basket with 6:57 left that gave the Tar Heels a 49-40 lead.
Virginia Tech cut the lead to 58-54 on a 3-pointer by Eddie with 40 seconds left, and then North Carolina's Leslie McDonald missed two free throws with 35.8 seconds to go, giving the Hokies a chance to cut into the lead more. But Eddie missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, and McAdoo hit the first of two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to push the lead to 59-54.
An Eddie layup cut the lead to 59-56 with 5.6 seconds remaining, but McDonald made the second of two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to seal it for the Tar Heels.
"When we made our runs, they always seemed to have a guy make a play, whether it was McDonald, who hit a big 3, or (Marcus) Paige, who came off a screen and hit a shot, or McAdoo in the middle," Johnson said. "They made plays, and they have several guys who can make them."
North Carolina won despite the off game from Paige. Coming off a 35-point outing in the Tar Heels' win over NC State on Wednesday and leading the Tar heels in scoring at 18.9 points per game, the sophomore scored just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor.
"What's happening at Virginia Tech now is just a snowball rolling down the hill," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "Things are going wrong for them every time you turn around. It's unfortunate for them. James is a fantastic person and a big-time coach. They just need a couple of breaks. I'm glad it wasn't against us, but they need a couple of breaks to get things going."
Eddie scored 18 points to lead Virginia Tech, which shot just 35.6 percent (16 of 45).