Virginia Tech 94 UNC 88

Almost epic.

And yes that can be taken both ways.

It should be noted that I am only annoyed with the loss.  It happens.  This is the ACC and parity being what it is nowadays you are pretty much assured to have a game like this.  VT is probably the hottest team in the ACC at the moment.  They beat Duke, they wiped out UNC Greensboro in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, and they seized upon this game at home on national television as a chance to make their mark.  The Hokies play great defense and have great athleticism.  They created a lot of problems for UNC today by slapping at the ball and generally playing with more energy than the Heels.  UNC had that “deer in the headlights” look and VT just ran away with.  To the Hokies credit they showed their experience and play great for 30 minutes.  They did try to give it away in the end but hit enough free throws to keep UNC at bay.

As for the Heels, they seemed to be in a little funk right now offensively.  The shooting has been questionable since conference play started.  It was 47% against FSU, 37% against UVa, and 43% against VT.  Inherent in that bad shooting is the total absence of a perimeter game.  UNC was 8-26 from three which is way too many outside shots for this team, but the by product of bad shooting and attempting to rally from a huge defecit.  Wayne Ellington is in a huge slump, Wes Miller has been slumping all season, and Lawson is spotty in his ability to hit three despite being 2-3 today from beyond the arc.  The interior game is inconsistent with Hansbrough shooting 5-13 today and for the most part shooting worse this season than last.  Brandan Wright can hit his shots als ong as you do not put him 15 feet from the basket unguarded where he was 1-8 today.  It was just bad shooting compounded by 17 turnovers.

And you know what.  This is not the first time I have seen this.  In fact my late father usually quoted the words of the Jimmy Ruffin song, “I’ve Passed This Way Before” to describe the feeling we had after watching UNC lose like this.  It was just a bad game.  If I panicked every time I saw UNC play and lose this way I would have jumped out of my bedroom window by now.  The stretch of three games in 1993 comes to mind where UNC had the huge rally against Florida State followed by an 20 point loss at Wake Forest and a 13 point loss at Duke.  That was the last time UNC lost a game until the ACC title game against Georgia Tech and after that they won the six most important games of the season.  In 2005, UNC lost to Wake in similar fashion, later lost to Duke in Durham and did not lose until the ACC Tournament.  After that they also won the six most important games of the season.  So, I am bothered by the loss, disconcerted somewhat by the way it unfolded, but I know Roy Williams did not get where he is at without knowing how to turn lemons into lemonade.  Whatever does not end your season can only make you a better team.

The only question that matters at this point, is how do the Tar Heels respond? Wednesday night at Clemson will tell us.

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7 Responses to Virginia Tech 94 UNC 88

  1. Phil says:

    I agree with you that the Heels have not been so hot offensively lately, at least as far as shooting is concerned, but I think 47% is a pretty respectable percentage. To me the biggest problem is that Tyler and Brandan seem to have been hesitant lately and wait about two seconds too long before making their post moves. The comeback was so impressive that I wonder whether it was by design…

  2. Cary Hokie says:

    You got love this game if you are a Hokie! 1966 was the last time we beat you guys, we were due. I still think that UNC has the best talent in the country, and will win the ACC this year. You guys just make sure that you sweep Duke this year and we will see you in Chapel Hill on Feb. 13.

  3. Andy says:

    Losing to VT in Blacksburg, while not desired, isn’t a completely BAD thing. Because of regional coverage here in Omaha, we got to watch a complete Texas vs Oklahoma blowout, and the last five minutes or so of VT vs UNC. I noticed a few things in the loss:
    First, if Brandad Wright would have made two more free throws, we probably could have had a chance at the end to at least tie it. I’m hoping that the other teams don’t employ a “hack a Shaq” technique against Wright to nullify his inside game. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but the thought has crept in my mind quite a bit.
    Second, this team didn’t give up, even when they were down by 21 at one point. Tech was hot and it seemed that Carolina kept chipping away and still had a chance at the end. I still think the 2004-2005 title team would have folded at that point.
    Third, WAY too many three point attempts. Danny Green is an offensive threat, but he reminds me more of a slasher like Max Owens rather than a shooter like Joe Forte. Even though Ellington has a reputation as a shooter, I would love to see him attack the hoop more.
    Fourth, this is still a pretty young team. This was the first real test they’ve gotten on the road, and now they know what it’s like to play in a hostile environment. I think they learned that they have to play and fight the way they did the last ten minutes of the game for the entire game, especially on the road.
    Finally, we need to stop rotating so many players in the game when it’s this tight. Ever since Frasor came back, it still looks like Roy’s stil toying around with rotations and deciding which combinations he likes. Not a bad thing at the beginning of the season, but dangerous once you get into conference play.
    I’ll wait to see if we get blown out at Clemson before I hit the panic button. Tech deserves the win and will be pretty tough as the season goes on, but there’s no way we shouldn’t return the favor when they come to Chapel Hill.

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    “I think 47% is a pretty respectable percentage.”

    Considering it was against the 11th ranked FG percentage defense in the ACC, it is simply not that impressive. Though all think considered that game was not that badly played by UNC, they perimeter game was very sketchy.

  5. william says:

    The 2004-2005 team would have folded? Did they fold against Wake Forest when they went way down and almost came back against a team that made 32 straight free throws. Did they fold against Duke at home when they were playing without McCants and were 9 down with three minutes to play? Did they fold against Villanova when they were down double digits or against MSU when they trailed at the half? How about against Illinois, when the Illini came roaring back from a 15 point deficit to tie the game?

    The 2004-2005 Tar Heels were the epitome of clutch.

  6. william says:

    I thought that this might be of interest:

    Gonzaga: ‘Heels were 6-26 on three-pointers and made 18-30 from the line.

    Tech: ‘Heels were 8-26 on three-pointers and made 16-29 from the line.

    Brandan Wright gets special mention for going 7-14 from the line against Gonzaga and for going 1-8 against Tech. Had he shot a normal yeoman’s free throw percentage of 70%, Carolina might have won both games.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Yes, I did notice the higher number of threes taken which may simply be a result of UNC trying to rally while down big. However, if they can hit 2-3 of those early in the game it might be effective in loosening up the opposing defense.

    And yes Wright has got to start hitting some free throws or else he becomes a liability in late game situations.

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