You probably thought after the Clemson game there’s no way they’ll blow another game like that the rest of the season. But it happened. You probably thought after losing to Boston College they won’t lose like that again. But it happened. After blowing a big lead late against Duke you probably it wouldn’t happen again. But it did, tonight at Notre Dame. Carolina led by as many as 15 in the second half, before collapsing once again in a 77-76 loss, in what was a must win for Notre Dame. After trailing by 3 at halftime, the Tar Heels used a 13-0 early in the second half, to take control of the game. They started defending with a purpose, they controlled the painted area, they started making perimeter shots. At one point they resembled a team that could compete with anybody in this conference, in large part because they have for the majority of the season. Then for whatever reason, it all fell apart and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Roy Williams called timeouts, only to see his team fail to execute out of it. Notre Dame left points at the foul line, but still Carolina couldn’t capitalize. Tonight was just another example of a bad team that doesn’t know how to win.
Cole Anthony led the Tar Heels with 23 points, on 7-16 shooting. He made a lot of plays for himself, but also appeared as comfortable as he’s been all season long. Garrison Brooks added 22 points, on 11-18 shooting as the junior continues to have a great season. Brandon Robinson returned from injury, and added 11 points off the bench, as the senior continues to show the perseverance we could all apply in our daily lives. You want to feel bad for them you really do because the losing is mounting, but there also needs to be some self blame. Carolina didn’t do the little things you have to do when you’re not as gifted as you’re use to being, to win on the road in the ACC. 3 takeaways from a loss that can’t be put into words:
Un-Timely Rebounding: A lot like the Duke loss, whenever Carolina needed to get that one particular rebound they weren’t able to, and it cost them. The three pointer that gave Notre Dame the lead and eventual win, could’ve been avoided had they corralled a defensive rebound. Leaky Black was in great position to bring in a offensive rebound on the prior possession, but was unable to and turned it over to Fighting Irish. It was just another reason as to why Roy Williams doesn’t believe his team isn’t a great rebounding team, and it continues to be proven true in heart breaking fashion.
Transition/Perimeter Defense: This is what allowed Notre Dame to get back into the game. Carolina quit running on defense to find their man, and it allowed for Notre Dame’s sharpshooters to get quality looks from behind the arc. The Fighting Irish connected on 11 triples, and most of them came in a flurry in the final stanza. The attention to detail waned in the closing stretch, as they lack the confidence to make winning plays.
Costly Turnovers: They had one out of timeout in the final 2 minutes. Armando Bacot set an illegal screen, up 5. Leaky Black turned it over trying to save a rebound. All these little miscues show up big time on the scoreboard, and it’s why they lost the game. It comes back to there lack of mental toughness, and knowing the situation. They continue to display a low level of basketball IQ, which is why they continue to lose.
Up Next: Carolina heads to the KFC Yum Center, as they tangle with Louisville on Saturday. The Cardinals are in the thick of the ACC race, so expect a hostile environment when they meet at 4 on ESPN.