The final score of tonight’s game won’t look nearly as ugly as the game actually was. UNC was as uncompetitive as it gets for 20+ minutes, earning every bit of their 47-25 deficit at halftime. It was their largest halftime deficit this season. The 92-85 final score somehow paints a very rosy picture of a game that was actually an uninspiring wreck.
Wake Forest led by as many as 26 points early on in the second half. That massive lead meant that the Deacons didn’t have to play anywhere near perfect to leave with a win. Although they didn’t do the best job of distinguishing themselves in the second half, it’s not hard to believe that some of that came from the fact that they simply didn’t need to.
Carolina managed to cut the deficit to single digits with under four minutes remaining. Wake Forest struggled in the second half while the Tar Heels chipped away even with Bacot having to sit for an extended period with four fouls. Bacot ultimately fouled out around the 3:30 mark. When Carolina had a chance to pull within single digits, the abysmal shot selection showed up again and resulted in what might as well count as a turnover.
The team did show signs of life from that point forward in the game, scoring an insane 60 points in the second half, but it was much too little too late. It defies explanation why they seem to be able to only hit big shots once they’ve dug their own grave, but that’s how the final three minutes of the game felt.
Even if you want to see some good in the Heels managing to turn a blowout into some kind of vaguely close game, you cannot ignore the play that got them into such a deep hole to begin with.
The late push kept UNC from shooting under 40% for the third straight game. They made just four three-pointers all game (three in the final 90 seconds) and turned the ball over 12 times to Wake Forest’s five. Somehow, Carolina lucked out that Wake only scored nine points off those turnovers or the margin would have been even worse.
Through the first 20 minutes of the game, Bacot had 13 points. No one else on the team had more than two points. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. Caleb Love (24) and RJ Davis (14) also finished in double figures. Love scored 22 of his points after halftime. The Tar Heels scored 21 of their points at the free throw line.
It was as ugly as we’ve seen a Carolina team play in quite a while. It’s one thing to miss shots and struggle to execute, but it’s another to give off the impression that you’ve stopped trying. It’s safe to say that the vibes of this team are absolutely atrocious right now, and they are flirting with being the first preseason #1 team to not make the tournament unless they can beat some really solid teams in the next couple weeks.
UNC will try and right the ship Saturday at home against Clemson.