Well, if you’re going to have a bad loss, you might as well have the worst one possible.
In a performance that’s normally seen on the road, Carolina absolutely saw their NCAA hopes circle down the drain in a truly horrendous performance last night. You could sit here and try to silver lining this one, but there’s really no way to do so. You also can’t look at the box score without breaking down into absolute tears.
As is tradition, as Caleb Love went, so did the Tar Heels. For the vast majority of the game, the sophomore couldn’t move the ball well, turned it over, and before the last ten minutes or so of the game was 2-9 without an assist. That he managed to scratch that back up to 7-14 and finishing with 19 points explains why a game that was out of reach almost the entire way got “respectable” at the end. That said, if Love had showed that earlier it would have been a different game.
There were two guys who came close to resembling a player of the game for Carolina: Leaky Black and Kerwin Walton. Leaky was all over the floor with five boards, nine points, an assist and a steal with only one turnover. It was a a close call to give the nod to the senior.
In the end, though, the nod has to go to Kerwin. It was arguably his best performance of the season, as he went 4-6 from the floor and 3-3 from three. The confidence in his shot that hasn’t been present all season finally showed through, and he was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to at least close the gap in the second half.
The only way Carolina can have any hope of the NCAA’s at this point is to balance out this horrible loss with...no more losses. They are going to have to spring an upset or two, likely make it to at least Friday of the ACC Tournament, and even then it’ll be tenuous.
You had to use a cliche, but when you play with fire this many times, you’re going to get burnt. The season isn’t over, for sure, but the fork is absolutely sticking out of the back of the team at this point, and it’s going to take something this team has shown little of in order to fix it: heart.