No. 19 North Carolina knocks off Virginia Tech for 11th straight win
BLACKSBURG, Va. — North Carolina’s 11th straight victory gave the Tar Heels one of the top four seeds in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and a bye through to the quarterfinals.
Quite a turnaround for a team that started 1-4 in conference play.
"I don’t know that I care that much about getting a bye," coach Roy Williams said. "I care more about that meaning that you’ve had a pretty good run. I like winning games."
James Michael McAdoo scored 15 points to lead No. 19 North Carolina past Virginia Tech 60-56 on Saturday.
McAdoo hit 6 of 9 from the floor for the Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4), who haven’t won this many games in a row since opening the 2008-09 season with 13 straight victories.
McAdoo scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half, including 10 after the Hokies had cut the Tar Heel lead to 42-40 on a basket by Jarell Eddie with 8:54 left in the game. North Carolina answered with seven straight points, with McAdoo scoring the last two points on a basket with 6:57 left to make it 49-40.
"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."
Leslie McDonald added 14 points and J.P. Tokoto finished with 12 for North Carolina.
"You have to understand that you’re going to go through a season and sometimes you’re going to play really well," Williams said. "You hope you win those games. Sometimes, you can lose those, but you hope to win.
"But to have a great year, you’ve got to win a lot of games ugly. That’s the way I look at it."
Eddie led Virginia Tech (9-19, 2-14 ACC) with 18 points.
"When we made our runs, they always seemed to have a guy make a play, whether it was McDonald or (Marcus) Paige or McAdoo," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "They made plays, and they have several guys who can make them."
After trailing 28-21 at halftime, the Hokies tied the game at 36 when Devin Wilson’s 3-pointer with 12:16 remaining capped an 11-2 run.
Tokoto hit a 3-pointer for the Tar Heels to end the run, and North Carolina did not trail again.
Virginia Tech cut the lead to 58-54 on a 3-pointer by Eddie with 40 seconds left, and then McDonald missed two free throws with 35.8 seconds to go, giving the Hokies a chance.
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. A layup by Eddie 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.
"I did some great coaching there. I screamed at Leslie and told him to make the free throw," Williams joked.
North Carolina won despite an off game from star point guard Marcus Paige. Coming off a 35-point outing in the Tar Heels’ win over NC State on Wednesday, the sophomore scored just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor. He had one assist in 30 minutes.