North Carolina came dangerously close to pulling off an upset against Duke earlier in the week but couldn't hold off a late surge from the Blue Devils and didn't hit enough free throws down the stretch when they were trying to catch up.
Despite the loss, UNC took something major away from that game: Renewed confidence.
UNC played like a team that had found its swagger defeating Virginia 93-81 Saturday afternoon, even if it didn't start the game that way.
North Carolina got off to a slow start against Virginia allowing the Cavaliers to jump out to a 13-4 lead after the five minute mark.
Virginia shot over 60 percent in the first half but had eight turnovers which allowed UNC to tie the game up at 40 going into halftime.
Virginia cooled off dramatically in the second half and was unable to score during the first three minutes of the second half.
The cold streak forced Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett to call timeout after UNC jumped out to a 48-40 lead coming out of the locker room.
P.J. Hairston got his second straight start and didn't let Roy Williams down as he scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Virginia's Joe Harris was a worthy counter-part to Hairston as he had 27 points, a career high, and had four three pointers.
North Carolina played the game Saturday afternoon in front of a number of former Tar Heels returning to Chapel Hill during the NBA's All-Star Weekend.
Tyler Hansbrough, Kendall Marshall, John Henson and Tyler Zeller were all in attendance to watch UNC play Virginia.
Zeller was bestowed the honor of having his jersey retired at halftime.
After the break, Hairston and Harris began going back and forth with each other during a stretch that seemed like one couldn't hit a shot without the other one answering.
Dexter Strickland played like a senior that knows his time is coming to a close. Strickland had 12 points and six assists but more importantly, he looked comfortable on the court.
He calmly hit on 6-8 from the free throw line and his ability to drive the lane forced the defense to collapse allowing him to kick it out to a plethora of shooters, Hairston and
Reggie Bullock included.
Hairston's point total made him the leading scorer for UNC in both of his games as a newfound starter. He had 23 points against Duke.
UNC (17-8, 7-5 ACC) will play at Georgia Tech Feb. 19 in their next game.