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UNC’s poor three-point shooting dooms them in loss to Miami

So much for momentum.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC finds themselves in a precarious position, and their game against Miami did them no favors Monday night. The Tar Heels had an awful second half after going to the locker room down just one point, and it all culminated in a 80-72 loss.

Truly, the Tar Heels would have won this one if their three-point shooting hadn’t been abysmal. The percentage hung in the single digits for most of the game, salvaged only by a few that went in as Carolina tried to claw their way back from the double-digit deficit they found themselves in. They finished the game at 16% at 5-31.

Armando Bacot was whistled for four fouls in under five minutes of game time in the second half. Make of that what you will. It kept Carolina’s best player on the bench for an extended period in a half where the team was much less effective overall than they had been in the first half. UNC shot 52% from the field in the first 20 minutes, but turned around and allowed a 52% second half from the Hurricanes.

RJ Davis finished with 23 points and Caleb Love finished with 20 points to lead the Heels. They combined for a 4-19 shooting night from long distance. Leaky Black finished behind them with 13 points and nine rebounds in what was a pretty good offensive night for him. Bacot, hampered by the foul trouble, scored just 12 points and had four rebounds.

Carolina’s reliance on maintaining a high free throw differential has been well-noted this season. While some of the free throws came while the Tar Heels were trying to extend the game with free throws at the end, Miami was 22-26 from the charity stripe. UNC was 9-15. The Heels were also out-rebounded 40-32.

Black did hold Isaiah Wong to just 10 points, but he cannot guard everyone on the floor. Jordan Miller made up for any of Wong’s missing offense with 24 points. Nijel Pack had 23 more, going 4-6 from long distance. Even when Carolina threatened to make it a game late, they simply could not come up with the defense to get the necessary stops.

The margin of error is basically zero at this point. The next test in Raleigh on Sunday is going to be a very difficult one, and it’s one that UNC really cannot afford to lose.