I think I could have handled a blowout better. That, at least, would be par for the course this season. I could have let that roll off my back and get back to digging myself out the blizzard. But this? UNC puts together their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Blue Devils to absolutely abysmal shooting. They kept the turnovers to a minimum, put themselves in a position to win, and then... didn't. Didn't come close really, because they couldn't get the ball in the hoop and couldn't keep Duke away from the boards.
The Heels were 34.5% from the field, mediocre from the line, and prone to multiple 3+ minute stretches of time without a bucket. And what's worse, they were outrebounded by the Blue Devils, who pulled down nineteen offensive boards. 21 of their points came on those second chance opportunities; if Carolina whittles that down to a reasonable number they win the game. If UNC turns their twelve blocks into defensive stops, they win the game. If they shoot a respectable 40% from the field, they win the game.
They didn't do those things, though. And the end result is a loss. Despite fixing the big problems from the Maryland game – UNC was never caught unaware on a Duke fast break and held them to a ridiculously low 2 or 23 from inside the arc in the first half – they just created new ones. I'm left worried about the psychological health of this team, to be honest. For all the confidence this team showed at times, with Larry Drew playing with a fury, and both John Henson and Marcus Ginyard showing a level of confidence I haven't seen this season, it was dejection all around by the end of Duke's closing 15-4 run. UNC only has three days to turn it around before playing State again, and they haven't had a two game stretch in conference this season without at least on of those games being a 12+ point blowout.
And we must take a moment to put emphasis on the performance of Ed Davis. Davis finished with more blocks than rebounds, and more turnovers than field goals. It was his third conference game this season where he finished with only four points and second since his injury. He's nowhere near a hundred percent, and with UNC's front line now down two players, he needs to get back to his early-season performance sooner than later. I just have no idea what he needs to do to get there.