UNC was the only team in the top 10 that hadn’t had a bad loss on the road until tonight. The same bug that caught all the other teams finally caught up to the Tar Heels as they had a bitterly disappointing performance in Atlanta. Things seem to go wrong in Atlanta more often than they go right, so this was an easy one to circle on the calendar, and unfortunately those fears were realized.
Carolina did have a chance to win, grabbing a narrow lead in the final minute of the game, but they couldn’t get the crucial final stop to pull out the win. RJ Davis had one final shot to try and win the game but he couldn’t connect. Georgia Tech won 74-73.
The narrow loss was made all the more frustrating by the number of points the Heels left at the free throw line. Carolina made just nine of their 17 attempts while the Yellow Jackets went 15-17. Those matter disproportionately in close games, and the difference was that Georgia Tech made theirs and Carolina didn’t.
Obviously the win streak was going to end at some point, but the way it came to an end is frustrating. The missed free throws, a missed foul call on Davis’ final shot, one shot here or there — anything different and the story is different. But here we are.
Davis did his best to carry the team that certainly did not have its best offensive night. He scored 28 points as the only Tar Heel in double figures. Elliot Cadeau was whistled for five fouls all in the second half. Harrison Ingram was, again, good on the boards, but he struggled with his shot. He did have a huge three-pointer late to give the Heels life, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Carolina’s 36% shooting from the field and 29% shooting from long distance added to the free throw woes really illustrate the problem. The offense was just off. Shots that have been falling stopped falling and they struggled too much with the free ones. The best thing they can do now is regroup and get ready for the next one, which happens to be a pretty big one.
Long win streaks have a way of making you forget the frustrations of ugly losses. It’s been a long time since we had to talk about a game where the Tar Heels didn’t find a way to win. They are still that team and even good teams stumble, but it still stings.
UNC will be back on Saturday when they take on Duke in Chapel Hill.