Posted with permission from The Sports Xchange
After dispatching in-state rival Virginia Tech on Wednesday night on the road, No. 8 Virginia returns home to the friendly confines of John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday, this time to face another tough ACC opponent in No. 12 North Carolina at Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia (13-1, 2-0 ACC) is in a stretch when it plays four of its first five ACC games at home after chalking up their first win in Blacksburg since 2014 with games looming against Syracuse and North Carolina State next week.
The Cavaliers' attention now turns to a North Carolina squad that narrowly escaped a loss to Wake Forest 73-69 on Dec. 30 in their ACC opener before falling on the road to No. 24 Florida State 81-80 on Wednesday.
"We need to play better and smarter," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said after the loss.
The Tar Heels (12-3, 1-1) have been good offensively this season averaging 84.9 points, but less than stellar on the defensive end as they yield 72.3 points per contest.
Virginia has held all 14 of its opponents to their season low or second-lowest point total as Tony Bennett's squad continues to be impressive on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cavaliers lead the nation in fewest points allowed at 52.7 per game -- 6.2 points ahead of No. 2 Miami. They also turned it over only six times against the Hokies, dropping their average to 9.0 -- fewest in the nation.
Virginia continues to lead the country in scoring defense at 52.7 points per game allowed after holding Virginia Tech to its season-low of 52 on Wednesday. With only six turnovers against the Hokies, the Cavaliers are No. 1 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (9.0).
"You can tell that they are well-schooled in what they believe and what they want to do relative to any sort of offense that comes their way," Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said after his team's loss to the Cavaliers. "I thought they were elite -- if not better than elite -- against us, for sure."
North Carolina has lost four straight games to Virginia in Charlottesville, including a 53-43 setback last season in which the Tar Heels were held to their lowest point total in the Williams era.
North Carolina allowed 51 first-half points to the Seminoles before outscoring Florida State 40-30 over the second 20 minutes.
"We got ourselves in position," Williams said. "They (Florida State) attacked so much more effectively. I liked our kids making a comeback."
Senior guard Joel Berry scored a team-high 28 points, including 20 in the second half to spark the Tar Heels' comeback effort. Berry scored a team-high 12 points for North Carolina last season in Charlottesville.
Junior forward Luke Maye continues to lead North Carolina in scoring at 18.1 per game with Berry right behind at 17.9. The Tar Heels will need both of their stars to play well and get help from a bench that hasn't produced much this season.
"Storied program," Bennett said of North Carolina. "We'll have to be ready and I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere in the arena."