This year’s version of the Tar Heels has become a bit of a question of which team is going to show up. Is it the team that couldn’t buy a bucket against Michigan State? Is it the team that couldn’t grab a rebound against Notre Dame?
Add this one to the list. Tonight’s Heels were the version of the team that let a team that couldn’t rebound out-rebound them. Joel Berry II and Luke Maye were great in the scoring column, each contributing 23 points to Carolina’s cause. Everyone else on the floor in Carolina blue was a non-factor.
It’s not the first time that the Heels have had their effort questioned this year. It’s super cliche to say that Virginia Tech played like they wanted it more, but that’s very much what it looked like. The defense was bad and lazy.
Carolina surrendered 12 baskets from three-point range. The Hokies out-shot them 47.6% to 42.9%. UNC turned it over 13 times with Berry, Maye, and Theo Pinson accounting for 10 of them.
Winning on the road in the ACC will always be a challenge, but this was one where the Heels were just out-played by a team that they should have been able to beat. Rebounding has been Carolina’s strength and Virginia Tech’s weakness...and yet.
A lack of effort defensively is the real disappointment of this loss. That’s something that should not be mentioned about a Roy Williams team at the end of January. But here we are. It’s hard to figure out how to fix playing uninterested basketball every once in a while.
UNC’s next game comes on Saturday at home against NC State. Hopefully they can find their want-to between now and then.