The collision opened a cut that left Anthony’s forehead bloodied to the point that the team’s athletic trainer escorted him to the locker room.
Anthony came back to the bench minutes later and reentered the game, finishing with a team-high 15 points. But he shot just 4 for 15.
“He’s a great leader, even as a freshman point guard,” Tar Heels forward Justin Pierce said of the projected top-five NBA draft pick. “To see him limping out there, doing whatever he can, a gash in his head — I didn’t really see what happened, but I saw the blood coming out. And just not feeling well, his body’s hurting, just to see him like put it all on the line for us — even though the result isn’t what we wanted, I know he probably wished he played better — but just to see that is really inspiring and speaks a lot to his character.”
Indeed, the results were alarming, and not just for Anthony’s forehead. Despite the best efforts of a physically compromised Anthony, the No. 7 Tar Heels (6-2) got thumped, 74-49, for the most lopsided home loss under Williams at his alma mater, leaving one of the sport’s most recognized brands seeking to regroup heading into Sunday’s ACC showdown at No. 5 Virginia.
Virginia (7-1, 1-0 ACC) committed a season-high 16 turnovers against the Boilermakers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Mackey Arena and shot 37 percent, snapping a 13-game winning streak that included its national championship-winning run.
“There’s a lot of concerns out there,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “It doesn’t even guarantee you’re going to win, but we say if you just want to eliminate losing, you’ve got to try to take care of the ball, you’ve got to control the glass, and you’ve got to get back.”
The Cavaliers also are without perhaps their most rugged rebounder, Braxton Key. The swingman is out indefinitely following surgery on his left wrist Nov. 26, two days after bracing himself from a hard fall during a 48-45 win against Arizona State.
The senior, who transferred from Alabama last season, was leading Virginia in rebounding (8.3) and was third in scoring (10.3), only a fraction of a point behind second-leading scorer Jay Huff (10.4).
Rebounding proved among the many deficiencies that doomed Virginia against the Boilermakers. The Cavaliers are ranked 10th out of the ACC’s 15 teams in rebounds per game.
“I think teams probably saw that we went to the offensive glass hard, so the scouting report changed a little bit,” Huff said.
North Carolina’s lineup is potentially compromised as well after Armando Bacot sprained his ankle during the loss against the Buckeyes. The freshman landed on a player’s foot during a scrum for an offensive rebound midway through the first half and had to be helped off the court by two teammates.
Williams all but ruled out Bacot against Virginia, saying North Carolina’s leading rebounder (8.9) and fourth-leading scorer (10.5) has a 0.00001 chance of playing.
X-rays didn’t show a broken bone, but Williams indicated Bacot’s ankle swelled considerably the next day, leaving North Carolina without a primary offensive contributor. That’s a concern for a team that has not scored more than 78 points in a game or shot better than 50 percent.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Williams said. “It’s part of the game. [Bacot] was great against Oregon, and it would have been nice to him, and as I said, Cole is under the weather, too. Those are just excuses. Just because you have adversity doesn’t mean you go belly up on the simplest things.”
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