CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -– The Yellow Jackets delivered the Tar Heels their first loss in 10 games after a 74-73 thriller in Atlanta last night.
North Carolina gave up a season-high 74 points, the largest score they’ve allowed an opponent to get to since first beginning ACC play.
RJ Davis was the team’s only double-digit scorer with 28 points and on par with his past performances, Harrison Ingram controlled the boards with 13.
The problem last night was two-fold: UNC’s lack of defensive intensity and inability to shoot. While they’ve previously had no issues cleaning it up during crunch time, this go-around didn’t go as planned.
Head coach Hubert Davis said that the team made “mistakes on coverage” and that “the Yellow Jackets did a good job of capitalizing” and turning those misses into points.
The Tar Heels also shot a season-worst 36.4 percent from the line (28-of-77) and made only half of their free throws (9-of-17).
While they gained some life back in the second, UNC never let the Yellow Jackets get more than a five-point lead and went shot-for-shot in efforts led by the team’s sophomores Jalen Washington and Seth Trimble.
RJ made a shot that gave the Tar Heels the 73-72 advantage, but that ended up being the last shot for the Tar Heels after freshman guard Naithan George got the switch over Armando Bacot and hauled in a crisp layup to win the game.
They lost control. But the loss doesn’t make me question their caliber. They are still a great basketball team. And in fact, they were humbled at the perfect time, because rivalry day is among us.
North Carolina (17-4, 9-1 ACC) will host No.7-ranked Duke on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the first of a two-game series.
Before facing the Blue Devils, they must rekindle that ‘lights out’ mentality and be
prepared for a blue-blooded battle that will be unlike the tests they’ve had all season.
The Blue Devils sit at second in the conference with a 16-4 overall record and 7-2 record in ACC play. They’ve won four of their last five games with wins over Georgia Tech, Louisville, Clemson and Virginia Tech, suffering a loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 20.
These next few days are critical for North Carolina as they need to make some key tweaks if they hope to get a win out of Saturday.