After winning four in a row, UNC went on the road and dropped a game against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. While it was their second game in three days, and most road games in the ACC are tough, it was still a really bad loss. Here are three things that stood out from the 80-69 defeat on Monday night.
The transition defense could use some work
North Carolina got just 10 offense rebounds in this game. While that’s not the best thing for a team that plays the way Carolina does, it’s also not the end of the world. Just a week ago, they got just four against Clemson and still won. If they are only going 10 offensive rebounds, then they either need to have shot the lights out, or have a good defensive day. Against Virginia Tech, well...
It wasn’t just that the defense allowed layups in transition (although those happened too), they just failed to make Tech play good half court offense a lot of the time. Not many teams can hang with UNC of the boards, but if one does, the Tar Heels have to make sure they make an effort to get back. That did not happen Monday night.
UNC is still struggling to hold leads
Against Clemson, the Tar Heels held a pretty sizeable lead in the first half, before the Tigers erased that pretty quickly in the second. Yes, that was in part due to a pretty much unrepeatable shooting performance, but Clemson still made that a game after UNC was up big. Against Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels were up 15 at one point in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets got within five around midway through the second half. Carolina still won by 14 in the end, but they put the game away way later than they should have.
In the first half against Virgina Tech, the Tar Heels held a seven-point lead with just under 12 minutes left. In the next four minutes, the Hokies went 2-9 and turned the ball over three times. After those four minutes, they still only trailed by seven. Instead of taking the lead into double digits in that stretch, Carolina similarly went cold and turned the ball over a couple times. By the end of the half, UNC’s seven-point lead turned into a seven-point deficit.
It was only the first half, and even if the Tar Heels did go up 10+, they still might have coughed up the lead considering how they were playing. However, it was still another game where a multi-possession lead got away from them. Unlike the previous two games, it did come back to haunt them this time.
This team can’t afford to have two players score 2/3rds of their points
Joel Berry and Luke Maye led Carolina in scored, finishing with 23 points each. The entire rest of the team scored 23. Apart from Berry and Maye, the only other player to make more than one field goal was Brandon Robinson, and he made two. Excluding those two, UNC shot 8-38 and 3-15 from three. That can’t happen.
Any team that has three of their starters combine to go 3-17 and only get 12 bench points, they’re probably in trouble. However, if the team continues to stay perimeter-oriented and keep going with the small lineup, they’re going to need more than two people knocking down shots.