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North Carolina 78, Virginia Tech 64: Hokies Drop ACC Basketball Opener

The Hokies fought and clawed to a 38-34 halftime lead in Chapel Hill Sunday night but poor defense and poor shooting in the second half led to a 14-point loss to the Tar Heels. Malcolm Delaney returned from a sprained ankle to lead Virginia Tech with 26 points. However, both he and the Hokies were shut down by the Tar Heels in the second half.

Tech did a good job of hitting the offensive glass, particularly in the first half. While Tech was out-shot in the first half by North Carolina, 38 percent to 45 percent, the Hokies were able to get second chances by being strong in the paint. Tech ended the game with 17 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points.

But the hard work on the glass wasn't there in the second half. Tech's defense failed it down the stretch and Tar Heels were able to get into the up-tempo game they thrive at. While the Hokies were able to play at this high speed and win in their previous game against Seton Hall, it wasn't the case against Carolina. Tech's transition defense was lacking and Tar Heels erased Tech's lead and started to put the Hokies at arms' length.

A lot was made by the beat writers about Jeff Allen's second half which was a microcosm for how the second half went for the Hokies. Allen had no points and no rebounds after halftime when he was needed most.

Victor Davila made the most of his 19 minutes and had four points on two-for-three from the floor and grabbed seven offensive rebounds. Dorenzo Hudson was the only Hokie other than Delaney in double figures with 14 points.

The Tar Heels had four players in double figures including Ed Davis who had a double-double. Davis scored 20 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. The hot-shooting Tar Heels were 15-for-23 (65 percent) from the floor in the second half.

Is it possible that we're a better TEAM when Delaney isn't in the lineup. When he was out against Seton Hall, everybody chipped in to try and fill the void and played at a much higher level. With Delaney playing against the Tar Heels it seemed like he was always the first and sometimes only option offensively. Some of these guys need to start playing like they do when Delaney isn't on the court if this team is going to try to finish in the Top 4 of the ACC.

What They're Saying

Second-half defensive lapses doom Hokies (Darryl Slater)
"Though Tech’s hopes vanished with those shots, it seemed worthy foe in the first half for the Tar Heels, the defending national champions, who dinged the Hokies’ NCAA tournament aspirations the past two seasons by knocking them out of the ACC tournament, by margins of three and two points."

Disappearing acts in the second half...for very different reasons
"While Delaney scored 26 points, including making 12 of 14 from the free throw line, Allen contributed four points, seven rebounds and three steals. Yes, Delaney was shut down in the second half (made just 1 of 5 shots from the floor) under a barrage of different UNC defenders, but Allen completely vanished in the final stanza."

Second half defensive struggles cripple Hokies (Collegiate Times)
"Simply put, the Hokies outhustled the Tar Heels, and Tech possessed an opportunity to start the Atlantic Coast Conference season with a bang and silence the doubters who questioned its weak out of conference schedule. The second half was a different story, as the Hokies gave up 44 to the Tar Heels on 65.2 percent shooting and eventually lost 64-78. What first appeared to be an impressive performance by Tech turned into an embarrassing display on the defensive side of the ball."

Big second half lifts Tar Heels over Tech (Hokie Sports)
"Malcolm Delaney returned to the lineup after missing a game with a badly sprained ankle and he did his part, scoring 26 points, but the Hokies struggled in the second half and fell to No. 9 North Carolina 78-64 in the ACC opener for both teams at the Dean Smith Center."

Poor Shooting Dooms Tech in Chapel Hill (Tech Sideline)
"The Hokie stayed in the game in the first half, generally fighting harder than UNC for loose balls and rebounds. The second half was a different story, as the Tar Heels were able to use their height advantage across the board to play good defense and dominate the paint. The Hokies shot just 24-of-67 (35.8%). Tech entered the game as the ACC's last place team in field goal percentage despite their soft schedule, so it's not surprising that they struggled to get good looks against the taller Tar Heels. UNC blocked 10 shots during the game, and the Hokies blocked just three."

Game Recap unc 78, VT 64 (Tech Hoops)
"Plainly put, the game was a tale of two halves. The Hokies came out looking great on the defensive end and seemed inspired by the return of the ACC’s leading scorer Malcolm Delaney. unc came out in a 2-3 zone and Malcolm responded by nailing his first three-pointer. Dorenzo Hudson, coming off a career high 41 points against seton hall, came out ice cold in this one, with no sign of the urgency of his scoring that was there when Delaney was out."

UNC 78, Virginia Tech 64 (Carolina March)
"For the first twenty minutes, you'd have thought nothing had ben learned from the College of Charleston game. Carolina was tentative, error-prone, and pushed around by a Virginia Tech team that was just playing tougher. Malcolm Delaney played despite his ankle injury and put up 20 points in the first half, as his team went into the locker room with a four point lead and what looked like all the answers for defeating the Heels at home."

UNC 78 VPI 64 (Tar Heel Fan)
"On big piece of that puzzle was Will Graves who hit a trio of three pointers in the 2nd half but also snagged a couple of key rebounds late. Overall Graves ended up with 13 points, six board and two blocks most of which came in the 2nd half. UNC also got decent guard play from Larry Drew and Dexter Strickland despite both being in foul trouble. Drew had 14 points, eight assists, two steals and only two turnovers."