Well, it wasn't a disaster. And it definitely had the potential to go that way, after a first eight minutes where the Heels went 3 for 13 from the field and fell behind by ten. They fought back though, helped by early foul trouble from Virginia Tech and strong play from John Henson (14 pts), Ed Davis (15) and David Wear (12), and managed to go into the locker room at halftime with the lead for only the second time in conference play.
They soon lost that lead to the same problems we're all used to seeing: turnovers (19), poor shooting, and a lapse in rebounding. It was the last that was especially excruciating to watch. UNC's defense played unusually well, denying the Hokies the dribble penetration so many teams had used to great effect, and forced ridiculously poor three-point shooting. But they couldn't control the boards, giving up 11 offensive rebounds in the second half. 10 points and Deon Thompson's fifth foul came on those second chances; not to mention that minutes that drained away under Tech's slow pace. That, plus UNC's inability to get the fifth foul on any Tech player, despite five of them having four, allowed the Hokies to keep their talent on the floor when they could have been so easily disrupted.
So where does this leave Carolina? I'm worried that the disappointment will just have them lapsing back into the play that torched them against Virginia. Starting Strickland over Ginyard didn't change anything – Ginyard had the majority of minutes, and the two combined for 7 points and 7 turnovers – and I've seen too many strong one-game performances from this team to declare it a new day for Henson and Wear, who played 14 and 16 minutes, repsectively. The bad news is, until now has been the soft, gentle part of the ACC schedule. From here on out, the Heels have a game every three days until the 24th, including road games against most of the top of the conference. Of course, the last win didn't actually change UNC's fortunes, so perhaps a near-loss will have a better effect.
It's amazing the rationalizations you can come up with to keep hope alive with this team.