Tar Heels taking time to regroup after loss
When Roy Williams walked onto the court before North Carolina’s game against Duke on Saturday night, he felt like he was about to be a part of one of the most special environments in Smith Center history.
“I thought this could be the most electric atmosphere that this arena had ever seen, and I was so proud to be involved,” Williams said.
It didn’t turn out that way. The Blue Devils quieted the crowd by scoring the first 14 points and wound up winning 69-53, handing the Tar Heels’ their biggest home defeat since Williams arrived as UNC’s coach in 2003-04 — a margin that even surpassed any home loss during the NIT season of 2009-10.
“Our crowd was really into it, and then we didn’t give them anything to cheer for,” Williams said. “And it’s a shame, because I really felt like that crowd was ready to blow the roof off the building.”
With the school on spring break and six days between the Duke loss and UNC’s first ACC Tournament game, the Tar Heels can regroup from their latest lopsided defeat without any distractions.
Williams said the offense, which shot 27 percent in the first half against Duke, must take better shots and play with more poise, while the defense, which allowed 69 percent shooting in the first half, must play with more urgency.
“Their offense beat our defense; their defense beat our offense,” Williams said. “They outplayed us; they were better than we were.
“(The) good news is we get to play some more. I’m happy for our team and what they accomplished, especially after a tough early season and tough start, to get the third seed. I’m pleased with the way we bounced back after some difficult times, and that’s what we have to do right now.”
The Tar Heels (22-9) will play Friday at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum against the winner of tonight’s first-round game between No. 6 Florida State and No. 11 Clemson.
This isn’t the first time UNC has lost big this season — the Tar Heels were defeated handily by Indiana, Texas and Miami and faced 25-point deficits against N.C. State and Butler.
None of those other deficits came at home, but Williams said he wasn’t going to change the lineup or make any other big moves before the postseason starts. UNC has overcome plenty of tough losses already and still recovered to finish third in the conference and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament field.
“I don’t think you can let one game crush you and lead to another one and another one,” Williams said. “That does happen with some teams that struggle quite a bit. But we had been playing pretty well, so hopefully we’ll handle it that way.”