Well, if you’re going to have a bad loss, you might as well have the worst possible.
In a performance you normally see on the road, Carolina absolutely saw her NCAA hopes crumbled in a truly horrific performance last night. You can sit here and try to do the stunt double for this one, but there’s really no way to do it. You also can’t watch the box score without bursting into absolute tears.
As tradition dictates, as Caleb Love left, so did the Tar Heels. For the vast majority of the game, the second couldn’t move the ball well, turned it over and before about the last ten minutes of the game was 2-9 unassisted. The fact that he managed to climb back to 7-14 and finish with 19 points explains why a game that was out of reach most of the time became ‘respectable’ in the end. That said, if Love had shown this earlier, it would have been a different game.
There were two guys who almost looked like 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 on just one turnover. It was a close call to give the elder the nod.
Ultimately, however, 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 hadn’t been there all season finally showed, 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 an NCAA prospect at this point is to balance that horrible loss with…no more losses. They’re going to have to pull off a surprise or two, probably at least Friday of the ACC tournament, and even then it will be tenuous.
You had to use a shot, but when you play with fire that many times, you’re going to get burned. The season isn’t over, that’s for sure, but the fork is absolutely sticking out the back of the team at this point, and it’s going to take something this team has shown little to fix: heart.