CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The nation’s leading scorer had one of his worst games of the season Saturday.
Erick Green missed his final nine shots of regulation, including an airball on the potential game-winner, and the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team lost to North Carolina 72-60 in overtime at the Dean Smith Center.
“I didn’t make plays when the team needed me to,” the senior point guard said. “As a leader, I didn’t make the plays to help our team win, so I can take the blame for that.
“I let my team down.”
For the third time in Green’s career, the Hokies (11-10, 2-6 ACC) led at halftime at UNC (15-6, 5-3) but lost the game.
“Isn’t that something crazy?” Green said.
Green entered the game averaging 25.5 points, including 27.4 points in ACC play. But he was scoreless for the final 16:15 of regulation Saturday.
He finished with 16 points in 43 minutes, only the second time this season he failed to score at least 20.
“I just didn’t finish. That’s my fault,” Green said.
Green entered the game with an impressive field-goal percentage for a guard — 49.8 percent, including 50.8 percent in conference play. But he was just 7 of 21 from the field Saturday, including 3 of 12 in the second half.
“Everybody has a cold night,” Green said. “I got all my screens. I got to the hole. I had some good looks.”
Green’s 14 missed shots Saturday were his highest total this season.
“We were lucky because he missed some shots that he normally makes,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.
“They put bigger guys on him and bodied him a little,” Tech coach James Johnson said.
Green’s biggest miss came with 4.5 seconds left in regulation. With the score tied at 55, his jumper from the left wing — 1 foot inside the 3-point arc — fell short.
Green said UNC’s Reggie Bullock tipped the shot, although a UNC spokesman said the video did not indicate a tip.
“I really thought that shot was in, the way it felt, but he got a nice little hand on it, a nice little finger on it,” Green said.
Green’s scoring drought finally ended when he made a basket with 1:30 left in OT.
Green did not go to the free-throw line once Saturday. He had been averaging 8.7 free-throw attempts this season, tops in the ACC.
“It kind of puzzles me I didn’t get to the line one time,” he said. “I can’t control what the refs do. I just do my part. Did I felt like I got fouled [sometimes]? Yeah. But that’s part of the game. They didn’t call it.”
Johnson said it was “mind-boggling” that Green did not go the line once.
“In transition, I thought he had some opportunities to attack and we pulled it out,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think he got in there and was physically tough enough. … Against a team like this, you’ve got to get in there and shot-fake … and kind of create a little bit more contact.
“Their post guys kind of build a wall … and didn’t let him get to the basket and drive, and that’s where he gets most of his free-throw attempts.”
The Hokies lost their fourth straight game.
“This one hurt,” said Jarell Eddie, who had 15 points for Tech.
The Tar Heels entered the game tied for seventh in the nation in scoring offense (79.1 ppg) with their fast-break attack. But they managed only 55 points in regulation against Tech’s zone defense.
UNC finished with just six fast-break points.
“We stopped their transition,” Eddie said. “We [were] able to really get back and set up our halfcourt defense”
The last time Tech visited UNC, in January 2011, the Hokies led by 16 points in the first half and led by seven at halftime before falling 64-61.
This time, the Hokies scored the first 12 points of the game and led by six at halftime.
The Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 42 with 13:12 left in regulation.
Tech’s Joey van Zegeren sank two free throws to tie the score at 55 with 45.8 seconds left in regulation.
UNC took the lead for good at 59-57 with 3:49 left in OT.
After van Zegeren made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 59-58, freshman point guard Marcus Paige scored six straight points to give the Tar Heels a 65-58 cushion with 1:36 to go.
Paige scored a career-high 19 points, including eight in OT.
“We didn’t expect him to do that,” Green said.
Tech was outscored 17-5 in OT.
“We ran out of gas a little bit in overtime,” Johnson said.
UNC’s James Michael McAdoo had 22 points and 10 rebounds.