CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Joe Harris scored 19 points and sparked a 15-2 second-half run and Virginia rallied to beat North Carolina 61-52 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools on Sunday night.
Harris' 3-pointer sparked the game-changing burst for Virginia (11-3, 1-0), which had just gone behind 34-26 after North Carolina opened the half on a 9-2 run.
Reggie Bullock scored 22 points for the Tar Heels (10-4, 0-1), who lost for the first time in five visits to John Paul Jones Arena.
Bullock's final basket came with 3:11 to play, pulling the Tar Heels within 51-50, but Harris scored on a short bank, Paul Jesperson made a driving layup and Virginia hit 6 of 8 free throws before P.J. Hairston scored again for North Carolina, making a free throw with 20 seconds left.
From UVa athletics:
• The Cavaliers are 4-0 in ACC openers under Tony Bennett and have won their conference opener five straight years
• Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak to North Carolina
• The Tar Heels suffered their first loss at JPJA (1-4); UNC had been the only ACC team undefeated at the arena
• North Carolina was held to a season-low 52 points (previous low - 59 at Indiana)
• North Carolina's 52 points were its lowest since a 48-46 win over Boston College on Feb. 19, 2011
• The Cavaliers improved to 9-1 when scoring at least 60 points this season
• Virginia had just one double-figure scorer (Harris) for the first time this season (last time - Mike Scott vs. Florida in 2012 NCAA Tournament)
• Virginia trailed at the half (25-24) for the first time in 11 games (Delaware)
• Joe Harris (19 pts) scored in double figures for the 12th time this season
• Harris led the team in scoring for the ninth time this season
• Akil Mitchell (11 rebs) had double-digit rebounds for the sixth time this season
• Jontel Evans made his first appearance since Tennessee (Dec. 5), having missed the last four games due to injury
• Evans scored a season-high eight points
Player Career Highs
• Teven Jones tied a career high with two 3-pointers
• Evan Nolte tied a career high with three 3-pointers
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett:
"It felt good. I thought in the second half we took better care of the ball. We became a little more rugged offensively. Certainly Joe (Harris) made some plays in the lane which helped, and Jontel (Evans) got to the paint. Our guys did compete. We were a little shaky offensively in that first half. We had too many turnovers."
On Akil Mitchell's ankle:
"I did not think he was going to play. He sprained it pretty bad, and it was swollen. He said ‘I want to try it.' He warmed up, and he went on a lot of adrenaline, so I really respect what he did for us with that ankle."
On young players:
"I think they did some good things. Evan (Nolte) has done that down the stretch in the second half for us a few times. His ability to threaten from deep and he's got a good mind for the game. Mike (Tobey) was a little shaky in the first half, with some of those turnovers and shots, but he'll learn with that. I thought Justin (Anderson) was good defensively, and gave us a nice lift, gave us energy. Teven got us off to a good start. That was good. Our old guys - Paul, our sophomore, made some nice plays down the stretch."
On Jontel Evans:
"He's not where he needs to be defensively, but he still could come up with some plays tonight. He could body as an older guy. He bodied Paige a couple times. His ability to put pressure on the paint and get in there stood out. He made one floater and some drives. He got us some great looks, and that makes all the difference in the world."
North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams:
On game play:
"I have to congratulate Tony. Obviously, I thought his second half was really good. They were better than we were offensively. They were better than we were defensively. They were more alert, more aggressive."
"We had a little bit of a run the first couple of minutes of the second half. We had great movement at that time. We had four different guys at least score. After that, we didn't get very good movement. We didn't set the screens the way we wanted to set them, didn't use them the way we wanted to use them. We missed some good shots. At the same time, our defense was breaking down on the other end."
"Give Virginia credit. They shot 52 percent the second half. We're trying to focus and see if we can do a good job on Joe (Harris). Joe was really good. I thought Jontel (Evans) coming in was big for them, too. Six assists, three turnovers – I think he (Jontel) had two or three of those turnovers in the first half. I thought the second half that Jontel was really big for them. We couldn't stop him from getting to the basket."
"We didn't do the things that we wanted to do. Give Virginia credit. They did the things that they wanted to do, and they dominated both ends of the court in the second half."
North Carolina Sophomore Guard P.J Hairston:
On teams defense:
"We weren't being aggressive enough. We were setting screens on Virginia, but they were getting right through them. And coach definitely said that. We were running to their screens and looking for a call when we should have been more aggressive."
North Carolina Junior Guard/Forward Reggie Bullock:
On UNC mistakes in second half:
"Sharing the ball, making mental mistakes, not getting to the boards, not finding the shooter in transition-things we work on every day in practice and we didn't do it in crunch time when we needed it most. "
On UNC defense:
"In the first half, we were active on the defensive end, doing some great things. But at the same time, we were making dumb plays on our end, by getting the ball inside in transition and kicking out to an open person and them stealing the ball. In the second half, it was glimpses of great defenses, but it wasn't good when we needed it or when we needed a stop."
Virginia Senior Guard Jontel Evans:
On his play today:
"It was just me going out there, taking my time, going at my own pace. I feel like the other times when I returned I was rushing my shot and I was eager to score a basket. But tonight, I was going at my own pace and the shots were falling."
On beating UNC:
"We made history. That was the last ACC team to be undefeated at JPJ. We were the team that knocked them off."
Virginia Junior Guard Joe Harris:
On Jontel Evans' play:
"He really slowed things down offensively. He came into the huddle and told us how he wanted to get the ball side-top-side and really try to make the defense work. I think from that point on in the second half we really did a good job of that."
On playing UNC:
"It's a different atmosphere, first conference game, playing against a team like Carolina. We have a really young team, so the jitters were there a little bit, but as the game went along guys got into the groove. Evan is a good example of that. Being a freshman, he stepped up and made some big shots."
On his play:
"Watching film, I didn't feel that Carolina's bigs necessarily did a good job of showing off screens and that sort of thing. We worked on that in practice, that if I didn't have a lane to the rim then I could kick back to the post, and that was the focal point offensively."
On 3-point play with 2:44 left:
"It was one of those situations where you need a basket. There was a timeout earlier in the possession and we discussed how we wanted to get something going toward the rim. The offense wasn't really flowing out on the perimeter, we were getting a little stagnant and I just tried to drive the lane."