Heels click in first round rout of Hokies

North Carolina dominated Virginia Tech in the second half to win going away, 78-56, in a revenge game that keeps the season alive in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels, a program low 14th seed in the tournament, started a journey that they hope will erase an injury-filled season filled with last-second, inprobable losses. UNC still need to win four more to take the title and earn an NCAA birth. But on this day, the Tar Heels could celebrate avenging a tough loss to Virginia Tech in February. Carolina was without Brandon Robinson in that game and the Heels blew […]

North Carolina dominated Virginia Tech in the second half to win going away, 78-56, in a revenge game that keeps the season alive in the ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels, a program low 14th seed in the tournament, started a journey that they hope will erase an injury-filled season filled with last-second, inprobable losses. UNC still need to win four more to take the title and earn an NCAA birth.

But on this day, the Tar Heels could celebrate avenging a tough loss to Virginia Tech in February. Carolina was without Brandon Robinson in that game and the Heels blew a 12-point second-half lead to lose in overtime.

Robinson, who had just been in an auto accident the first time the two teams played, wasn’t about to let the Tar Heels blow a lead this time.

Carolina was up by an identical 12 points with under nine minutes to play. Instead of faltering, the Heels reeled off 13 straight points to blow the game open at 68-43, the team’s largest advantage of the game.

During that run, Robinson hit three of his five three pointers on the night. The first came after a fake and dribble between his legs got the defender out of the picture. His second three was from the left corner and his last three came from the right sideline.

Robinson finished with 17 points. “I didn’t want today to be the last day I put on this jersey,” the senior said.

Garrison Brooks led the way with 20 points, hitting five of six shots in the second half. UNC coach Roy Williams said the Heels were trying to get the ball down low to Brooks and he did a good job of kicking it back out to Robinson if he couldn’t score.

UNC opened up a 10-point lead in the first half but Virginia Tech stayed in it by hitting six three pointers before halftime.

The Heels, up 32-26 at the half, clicked better as a team, shooting 55 percent and only turning the ball over twice after the break.

Carolina started the second half on a 7-0 run that set the tone for the second half. A highlight-reel baseline move and floater by Cole Anthony who was fouled on the play put the Heels up 39-26 and the Heels never looked back. The lead never got under 10 the rest of the way.

The Tar Heels, now 14-18 overall, play Syracuse in the second round of the ACC Tournament Wednesday night.

For a box score and more on the game, please click here.