CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)Ben Vander Plas might be changing his pregame shooting routine.
The Ohio transfer had 17 points and eight rebounds on Tuesday night as No. 13 Virginia used a 17-2 second-half run to rally for a 65-58 victory over North Carolina, which lost leading scorer and rebounder Armando Bacot to a left ankle injury early in the game.
”Usually I’m doing it in the practice gym but just wanted to change it up a little bit today and get some shots in the main court. So I might have to make that part of the main routine,” said Vander Plas, who had 14 second-half points.
Reece Beekman scored 13 points and Armaan Franklin had 12 points and nine rebounds as the Cavaliers (12-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their eighth straight meeting with the Tar Heels at John Paul Jones Arena. Freshman Isaac McKneely scored 11 for Virginia, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range, including a critical one from deep with 2:21 remaining.
Bacot rolled his ankle 1:18 into the game and did not return, but North Carolina went on a 21-5 run in the first half and led by seven points early in the second.
Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said he didn’t see the play where Bacot was hurt – ”I just saw him on the ground,” Davis said – and had no update on his star’s status.
”I know he’s hurt pretty bad. I know he’s in a lot of pain,” Davis said, adding he didn’t find out that Bacot wouldn’t return until halftime. ”I just want him to be OK.”
RJ Davis led the Tar Heels (11-6, 3-3) with 16 points and Caleb Love and Jalen Washington added 13 each. Washington, a freshman, played 27 minutes in Bacot’s absence and matched his season total for field goals with five.
”I though he played fantastic,” Davis said.
Franklin started Virginia’s rally with a putback dunk, and Vander Plas also had a putback dunk and a pair of 3s, putting Virginia ahead 52-42 with nine minutes left.
The Tar Heels closed within 58-55 on Love’s 3-pointer with 2:47 to go, but McKneely hit a deep 3 in front of the Virginia bench to restore the lead to six. Love made another 3, but Beekman drove an open lane for a dunk, Vander Plas made a steal and dunked, and Kihei Clark forced a turnover.
Beekman’s drive came off a slip screen set by Vander Plas.
”I think for sure his health is improved and that’s helped a lot,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Beekman, who has been slowed by a right hamstring injury. ”I mean … to get down the lane and get that finish at that point was significant.”
Trailing 10-3 after a slow start for both teams, the Tar Heels surged to a 24-15 lead with just under four minutes left in the half. Washington scored nine in the flurry. Virginia scored 12 of the last 17 points to get within 29-27 at the half.
North Carolina: Justin McKoy, who played two years at Virginia before transferring to North Carolina before last season, was booed when he entered the game. McKoy had been little-used, making only seven appearances and totaling seven points in those games. He finished with two points and six rebounds in 14 1/2 minutes.
Virginia: With the Cavaliers shooting poorly in the first half (9 of 24, 38%), Beekman highlighted his importance with two steals and fast-break layups, and then another steal that led to a two-on-one break with Clark scoring. Beekman finished with five steals.
North Carolina: At Louisville on Saturday.
Virginia: At Florida State on Saturday.
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