The Tar Heels entered Saturday with a massive task, as they looked to take down a Louisville team that was looking to remain in the hunt for an ACC regular season. Not only did this struggling team that entered the game on a four game losing streak have to go on the road to get that done, but about an hour prior to the game they found out they would have to do it without two key frontline players. Justin Pierce was a big loss off the bench, as he missed the game due to injury, but the loss of Garrison Brooks due to an illness was the difference between another competitive loss and what took place on Saturday afternoon.
After being down by just four points with five minutes to go in the first half, Louisville would go on a 24-4 run to pull away from the Tar Heels and they never looked back. During that stretch, the Tar Heels were just 1-14 from the field, a stretch that has just never been as common in prior seasons as it has become this year. While that stretch was damaging enough, you combine that with the Tar Heels 17 turnovers and you can see why this game got out of hand the way it did.
Brooks scoring touch was badly missed on Saturday, as Cole Anthony was the only Tar Heel to finish the game in double digits and the only player to take more than eight shots from the field. With no other sustained threat for the Tar Heels, they were only able to muster 55 points, their lowest output in a game since they scored 47 on the road at Virginia back in December.
The Tar Heels losing streak has now reached seven games, a number that hasn’t been seen since 1950-51. The Tar Heels will hope to somehow sweep the season series against the NC State Wolfpack on Tuesday night to avoid tying the program’s longest losing streak of eight games, but that will be a challenge against a Wolfpack team that has far more to play for than they do at this point.
-Andrew Platek was one of the bright spots for the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon. He finished the game with nine points on 3-5 shooting, including a 2-3 mark from deep. Platek has really had his struggles so far this season, especially on the offensive end of the floor, so this performance is an encouraging one for him as he looks to finish the year strong.
-With Brooks and Pierce inactive, the Tar Heels were forced to start a four guard lineup, as Armando Bacot and Leaky Black were the only players over 6’8 to play significant minutes on Saturday. This is the main reason that the Tar Heels were outrebounded by the Cardinals 38-29, something that is just as rare this year as it was a year ago, when the Cardinals did it in the meeting in the Smith Center with the Tar Heels.
-One interesting thing to note from Saturday was the fact that Walker Miller was the first forward substitute off the extremely thin bench, not Brandon Huffman. Huffman, the only scholarship player of the two, played just four minutes, all in garbage time, while Miller played eight key minutes. While it may not be anything major to read into, it is definitely noteworthy.