CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina endured a 63-57 loss against Miami on Wednesday night at the Smith Center. It was so ugly it had coach Roy Williams saying afterward that hed reached his lowest point mentally.
And some postgame thoughts:
THREE THINGS TO TAKE AWAY FROM UNCS LOSS
1. This was a mentally draining defeat.
Williams can be a bit emotional at times, and so he was again on Wednesday night. He was maybe as emotional as Ive seen during my time covering UNC basketball (the start of the 2011-12 season through now). Williams said two things that stood out more than anything else.
First he said this: When you go to school here and you coach here as an assistant and you come back and coach here, its a feeling of ownership and its a feeling of pride. And right now were not doing a very good job with this basketball team. And then he said this: I do feel mentally probably worse than Ive ever felt as a head coach right now. That also shows what a blessed life Ive had. But Ive got good kids. Ive got to do a better job with them.
Clearly, this loss bothered Williams immensely. Some of his players acknowledged afterward, too, that they were shaken. Mentally, where does UNC go from here?
2. Marcus Paige is officially in a slump.
Paige for the first time this season failed to score in double figures on Sunday during UNCs loss at Wake Forest, where he scored eight points. He scored eight points again Wednesday against Miami.
In his past two games, Paige is just 5-for-27 from the field, and 3-for-19 from behind the 3-point line. Paige is too good of a player for this to last he has proven that but its fair to wonder at this point if the minutes are starting to catch up. In 10 of UNCs games, he has played at least 36 minutes. He hasnt played fewer than 30 minutes in any game.
When Paige is off and he has been, without question, in the past two games UNC has no other go-to player. He says hes not tired, and he says its just a matter of a couple of off nights. After the Miami game Paige said he didnt know what has gone wrong with his shot the past two games. Ive got to do better, he said.
3. This doesnt bode well for Saturday at Syracuse.
The Tar Heels are 0-2 in the ACC for the second consecutive season, and its not like it gets any easier. UNC plays at No. 2 Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuses zone defense is the most well-known of its kind in college basketball. UNC on Wednesday, meanwhile, struggled mightily against Miamis zone. The key against any zone, and especially the one that Syracuse uses, is making outside shots. If the Tar Heels dont shoot well from the perimeter on Saturday, it doesnt seem likely theyll have much of a chance. UNC on Wednesday didnt shoot well from the outside 5-for-21 on 3-pointers and that was one of the main reasons why the Tar Heels lost.