UNC Slips, Falls to Duke 92-90 in Overtime
Thanks to Critter Control of the Triangle
I sit here writing this with a number of emotions. Sadness, disappointment, and every other emotion similar to those. But the foremost emotion on my mind right now is worry. I’m worried about this Tar Heel team and here’s why.
UNC has now lost 4 of the last 5. The Heels won 6 out of 8 games in January, with the two losses at home against Notre Dame, by 1 point, and away at Louisville by 10. In February, UNC has played four games, with the only win an 11-point victory over Boston College. Not a great way to be playing as we approach the last 5 games of the regular season.
Another cause for concern is that everything we were promised in the preseason and early season has not come to fruition. Marcus Paige, an animal last year and the preseason ACC POY went 2 of 11 from the field tonight and 1-3 from behind the arc, totaling 5 points. I know he’s injured. I know the expectations people put on him may have been too high. But as the designated leader on this UNC team, and very clearly designated by Coach Williams, Paige has to have more of an impact. He can’t allow his teammates to let a 9-point lead slip away like it did.
Justin Jackson may have played his worst game of basketball in a light blue jersey on a night when we really could have used his offensive threat. Jackson had 2 points… Yes, 2, on 1-for-8 shooting. That’s not the JJ that Roy recruited.
Finally, our big men are not commanding a game like they should. Yes, they both scored 18 points tonight. Yes, Brice had 12 boards and struggled guarding a much quicker Justice Winslow. But Meeks and Johnson might be the best frontcourt duo in the country, and they simply don’t bring their A-game. You think Tyler Hansbrough would have allowed a Dookie to manhandle him like Okafor did to the big men tonight? I sure as heck don’t. I know Duke is good. They’re really good, like could beat Kentucky good. I know Okafor is a beast and a pest on the block. I watched him take a regulation sized basketball on a regulation sized hoop and make it look like he was playing on a Little Tikes set in his basement. But Meeks and Johnson HAVE to find a way to leave their mark on these close games that matter.
I know we had some good play. We played the #4 team in the country to overtime. Tokoto played well, Britt had a great game, and Joel James played better defense than I have ever seen him play and he actually looked like he knew what he was doing. But it just wasn’t enough. And that’s the problem. It “just hasn’t been enough” too many times this season. We have been on the losing end of too many close games. And down the stretch, come NCAA tournament time, that is going to be a huge hole in the team morale. I hope Roy can pull some miracle. I’m not sure how much more of this he and his players can take. But something needs to happen for UNC, or this will go down as a season we all want to forget.