The good news is Marcus Paige snapped out of his slump. The bad news pretty much everything else went wrong as UNC went from leading 39-30 at halftime to an 80-76 loss at Notre Dame.
It all started out so well. Marcus Paige was hitting threes to the tune of 4-5 in the first half. Isaiah Hicks came off the bench for ten first half points and a balanced Tar Heel attacked opened up as much as a 15 point lead. Notre Dame whittled it down to nine at the break but the Tar Heels had a solid offensive efficiency and held an explosive Notre Dame offense under a point per possession.
After halftime UNC was able to initially maintained the lead but a constant string of fouls allows Notre Dame to slowly whittle the lead down even further. The Irish methodically climbed back into the game and with 9:22 left bolted into the lead on a Demetrius Jackson layup. The Tar Heels responded with a Kennedy Meeks jumper and Paige's fifth three of the game to push UNC back in front by three. The lead was short lived as a three point play from Steve Vesturia knotted the game again.
The game fell into a familiar back and forth pattern for UNC where stops were rare and every offensive possession critical. Ultimately the Tar Heels sputtered enough offensively to fall off pace and as the Irish continued to make free throws. At one point Notre Dame hit 20 straight at the line and grabbed crucial offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.
Despite the second half troubles, UNC had a chance to tie with 14 seconds left but Paige's three missed the mark. The Irish managed another make at the free throw line to secure the game.
UNC falls to 19-4 overall and 8-2 in the ACC which has the Tar Heels in a tie with Louisville though the Cardinals are no longer eligible for the postseason.