“This is real! This is real!” said the two Louisville fans sitting in front of the student section as Saturday’s game came to a close.
It was certainly real. Albeit, an early conference game between two teams that don’t seem to have discovered who they really are, it was still one of the most real games of this turbulent season for the Tar Heels.
Because somehow, situated in between a Mack Brown tweet about Roy Williams’ opinion on his team’s hard work and effort:
And Roy Williams simply stating “Basketball” when asked about a particular area of concern for UNC after the loss:
A team stepped on the court in Carolina blue that looked like they didn’t want to be there.
Uninterested, is the word that kept running through my mind.
One game after holding onto their game against NC State and pulling out to a late lead that fans could be confident in, there was no fire left in the them.
Luke Maye scored two points in the second half and finished the game shooting 3-14 from the field.
Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams, Carolina’s leading scorers for the game, combined for a total of 22 points. The starting five shot 2-17 from three.
Coby White didn’t make a single shot.
The only bright spot, as minor as it may have been, is that Brandon Huffman came to play. He only scored four points off the bench, but it was four points in four minutes.
He shot well from the free throw line, fought hard for an offense rebound that led to a strong putback and had a resounding block that was unfortunately – and mistakenly – called a goaltend.
Our luck with those hasn’t been the best as of late.
It would be remiss of me to leave out the, at times, painful officiating that occurred. I’m sure that the boos could be heard through the television and probably a distance down the road from the arena.
There was no excuse for some of the calls made, but none of them would have mattered in any Tar Heel’s mind after the game, had the players gone out and acted like they wanted to be on the court.
As it has been in the past, this team seems to have two versions of itself. Saturday’s was not the good one.
So bad that Coach Williams closed his post-game comments with, “If I’m going to die, I hope it’s not during a game we played like that. I want to die when we freakin’ play well.”
But things could always be worse, and a look on the bright side will tell you that the 2009 Tar Heels lost their first two conference games and the 2017 team managed to lose by double digits to both Georgia Tech and Miami.
I don’t know if there is any comparison between those teams and this group of guys, but I know that making forecasts for the rest of the season off of one game has a tendency to backfire.
On the way out after the game, I noticed a copy of the Daily Tar Heel laying along the cement walkway out of the Smith Center. On the front page, a picture of Nassir Little.
I then watched a fan stepped directly on it, moments after I noticed it.
Not the brightest, or warmest, of days at the bottom of Skipper Bowles, but there’s much more left to come. Tuesday night, at home against Notre Dame, we’ll see which team shows up then.