In the Kentucky game it was three points. Today it was four. That's the margin in each game that UNC had fought back to after being down by double-digit margins for most of the second half. They cut it to four (or three) have the ball and all of the momentum... and the Heels just go stupid. Here are the possessions immediately following UNC cutting the score to 82-78: a missed Larry Drew three that shouldn't have been taken, a Will Graves turnover, a Tyler Zeller layup, a Marcus Ginyard turnover before crossing midcourt, and a Larry Drew turnover. Two minutes and fifteen seconds of clock, and all of a sudden the core is 91-80, Texas. The Heels wouldn't get closer than nine the rest of the way. Pathetic.
Of course, that one stretch isn't what cost Carolina game. It was quite simply the Texas players under the basket snatching rebounds right and left. John Gasaway may not like rebounding margin, but here it tells the entire story. UNC had 37. Texas had 54. 25 of those were offensive rebounds; Dexter Pittman alone had 12 of those (27 overall), more offensive boards than the entire UNC team. The Heels were pushed around like they weren't even there. It doesn't do any good to hold Texas to 41 percent shooting if they just get to keep trying until the ball goes in, and forty percent of their misses found their way back into Longhorn hands.
It's especially frustrating since Carolina was doing so well elsewhere on the court. They had nine blocks and were a remarkable 7 for 13 in three pointers. It was possibly the best game of Dexter Strickland's and Tyler Zeller's young careers. But the turnovers were still there (17, with 11 Texas steals, and Texas doesn't typically steal the ball) , Deon Thompson was a complete no-factor, and every rebound seemed to find its way into Dexter Pittman's hands. Roy Williams can't be happy with this performance, which goes against everything he likes to see in a performance. The team can't be happy, especially Marcus Ginyard, who seemed to have the weight of the entire team on his back at the end. It's another brutal loss against a really good team, but it has to grate knowing that a good performance on the boards would have easily flipped this into the win column. Carolina is left with a long Christmas break with a few cupcakes sprinkled here and there on the schedule. I can hope they'll learn from this, and use it come ACC season, but right now the Heels are failing on the national stage more often than they're winning. That's going to have to change.