No. 9 Virginia Tech, No. 13 UNC collide with ACC lead at stake

Two ranked teams that have bounced back after lopsided losses are set to clash with sole possession of first place in the ACC on the line -- at least for one day.

No. 10 Virginia Tech visits No. 11 North Carolina on Monday night at the Smith Center.

North Carolina (14-4, 4-1) has won twice since an 83-62 home loss to Louisville. That includes Saturday's 85-76 victory at Miami when the Tar Heels shot 55 percent from the field, marking their first game at 50 percent or better in an eight-game stretch.

"We need everybody's shooting percentages to be better," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

Virginia Tech (15-2, 4-1) recovered from a blowout loss at then-No. 4 Virginia to drub Wake Forest on Saturday.

Getting back in a groove was important to the Hokies, who fell 81-59 in the much-anticipated in-state matchup with Virginia.

"I thought we were much more 'us,' and that is not to take anything at all away from the University of Virginia," Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said after the Wake Forest game. "... The response from our team, it speaks to how they were raised, it speaks to their characters and to their work ethic."

Virginia Tech has reached the 80-point mark in 10 games this season, winning all of those.

North Carolina's defense has been spotty at times, so that could be a factor in this matchup.

North Carolina often excels on the offensive end. The team notched 26 assists in the Miami game for the second-highest total of the season.

"Everything looks better when it's going in the basket," Roy Williams said. "For us, I liked the way we took care of the basketball in the second half."

Virginia Tech dealt with a different kind of dilemma. Because of foul trouble, the Hokies had to dig deep into the bench in Saturday's game.

"I thought the poise and maturity of our team was really good in response to that," Buzz Williams said.

The reserves accounted for 25 points in the 87-71 decision against Wake Forest.

"We just know we've got to contribute to the group," Virginia Tech reserve forward Ty Outlaw said. "It's not about who's in. It's about us, no matter who's on the floor."

The large chunk of playing time for backups might ultimately benefit the Hokies if some energy was conserved for the quick turnaround for Monday night's game.

North Carolina's depth has been impacted by the absence of backup forward Sterling Manley, who has a knee injury that has kept him out of games for three weeks.

Freshman Nassir Little has helped with production off the North Carolina bench, scoring 11 and 12 points in the past two games despite logging only a total of 30 minutes in the two games. Roy Williams said seeing Little take the ball to the basket has been a plus for the Tar Heels.

--Field Level Media
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