Off the cuff: UNC coach Roy Williams says, "It’s not a lot to say. They kicked our rear ends." Actually there is too much to talk about and little time to do it with the Virginia game looming Monday night in Chapel Hill.
For one, 44 was the most free throws for a North Carolina opponent since Williams became coach.
And then there's the foul trouble, the comeback, the poor free throw shooting and the fact that Louisville played more aggressively in the second half.
“They competed harder than us when we thought we had the game,” Marcus Paige said. “That’s the story of the game. You can look at any statistical category you want.”
Williams agreed saying that Louisville's defense was stronger than Carolina's offense and that their will to win was stronger.
“We’re getting the crap out of town," Williams said.
A win in this game certainly would have set Carolina up for a good chance to win the ACC regular season crown. But let's not over play the importance. A lot can happen. Plus, perhaps it's time to be philosophical.
If Carolina buckles down and beats Virginia, it will be in part because the Heels want to play harder and simply do better after such a disappointing loss.
In other words, Carolina may have beaten Louisville and lost to Virginia. If I were the Cavaliers, I would have preferred to play the Tar Heels with them coming off a win.
Ok, ok, it's best to win both games but maybe Carolina has the intangible edge in the matchup with Virginia Monday. Of course, if the Tar Heels lose to the Cavs, the loss after being up by 18 at Louisville will sting even more and make finishing in the top three in the conference much more difficult.
“We’re trying to win the league,” Paige said. “Dropping one game can mean the difference between the top of the league or a three or four spot with a lot of hurdles to climb. For that reason, this is going to stick with me for a while. It’s going to be hard not to think about this one."
Beating unbeaten Virginia will go a long way toward putting the loss to Louisville in the rear view mirror.
If the Tar Heels start a game on the road like they started this home game, they will almost surely lose.
Carolina missed two open threes in the first minute or so and then turned the ball over six times in the first eight minutes as Syracuse jumped out to a 16-9 lead.
That turned out to be the visitors largest lead however as the Tar Heels opened up a nip-and-tuck game in the last two minutes.
There were eight ties and nine lead changes before Nate Britt's three from the right side with 8:10 to go put the Heels up for good.
Britt, who has recently lost a grandparent and had 15 stitches in his mouth, came through with perhaps his best game as a Tar Heel, scoring 17 points on four of five three pointers.
Carolina Football: Golden anniversary of a redeeming 50-0 victory over Duke.
Carolina Football: Excerpts from an article on the history of the Carolina-Duke rivalry.
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Heels blow 18-point lead; lose in OT
A foul-plagued North Carolina team blew an 18-point second half lead and fell in overtime at Louisville, 78-68.(1/31)
The first time the two teams played, the situation was reversed as Carolina came from 13 down to win.
Up 43-25 in this one after JP Tokoto drove the baseline for two with 17:51 to play, the Tar Heels fell apart.
In less than three minutes, Louisville had cut the deficit under 10 points.
When Marcus Paige went out midway through the second half after he aggravated a foot injury, the Cardinal went on a 9-2 run to tie it at 53-53 with 8:20 to go.
Louisville got those nine points in just over a minute with two three pointers and an old-fashioned three.
A pair of Tokoto buckets put the Heels up by four as they kept Louisville from taking a lead in regulation. However, the Cardinal tied the score at 60-60 from the foul line with 3:13 to go.
A wild last three minutes yielded no points for either team. Louisville had a chance to win after Paige was stripped of the ball with 35 seconds left but Montrezl Harrell, who keyed the comeback, missed a three pointer at the buzzer.
With big men Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks fouled out, the Tar Heels never led in overtime. Nate Britt fouled out in overtime and three other Carolina players ended the game with four fouls each.
Louisville shot an amazing 44 free throws, hitting 27 of them. Carolina was a mere 11 of 20 from the line.
Louisville, playing more aggressively in the second half, got 21 offensive rebounds compared to 12 for Carolina.
In the first half, Louisville jumped out to a 10-7 lead in the first four minutes after a pair of threes but the Tar Heels went on a 12-1 run to seize control of the game at 19-11.
Marcus Paige and Nate Britt hit threes to highlight the run.
A Tokoto 15-footer gave the Heels their first double-digit lead at 23-13. A pair of buckets by Kennedy Meeks - his first two shots of the game - put the Heels up by 14 at 32-18 before settling for a 36-25 halftime lead.
Carolina held Louisville to 26 percent shooting in the first half, scoring only seven field goals. Louisville finished at only 34 percent, compared to 43 percent for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels turned the ball over 19 times including six during a four-minute period where Louisville caught up in the second half. Paige led the Tar Heels with 15 points but he also committed five turnovers.
Carolina falls to 17-5 and 7-2 in the ACC while the Cardinal advance to 18-3 and 6-2 in the league.
The Tar Heels play at home against unbeaten Virginia Monday night.
UNC turns it on in 2nd half to top 'Cuse
Turn, turn, turn. In the first half, North Carolina turned it over but in the second half the Tar Heels turned it on as they turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 10-point win, 93-83, over Syracuse. (1/26)
Down 40-35 at the half, the Tar Heels shot 62 percent from the floor in the second half and scored 58 points.
"Everything looks better when the balls goes in the basket," UNC coach Roy Williams said.
But Carolina turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, leading to 16 Syracuse points. The Heels finished with a season-high 20 turnovers after a season-low five turnovers in their last game.
"(At the half) I challenged them for toughness in the second half," Williams said. "I thought we were tougher physically and mentally, probably more so mentally."
The only thing consistent about each half for the Heels was the play of Nate Britt, who scored eight in the first half and nine in the second half for a career-high 17 points, including four three-pointers.
Britt and Marcus Paige each hit back-to-back triples during a key point in the second half.
Despite coming out of the locker room on fire, the Tar Heels still trailed 56-50 with 13 minutes to play.
Over a 45-second span, Paige hit two threes to tie the score at 56. Fewer than three minutes later, with the Heels trailing 62-61, Britt hit a pair of threes, one from the right side and one from the left. That put the Heels up 67-62 and they never trailed again.
Syracuse pulled within two at 74-72 but Carolina went on an 8-1 run highlighted by six points from Brice Johnson to go up 82-73.
It never got closer than seven the rest of the way while the lead mushroomed to 11 before the Tar Heels settled for the 10-point victory.
Rakeem Christmas, with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Trevor Cooney, with 28 points after averaging 14 this season, kept Syracuse in the game. But Carolina got 25 bench points compared to zero for Syracuse.
Four Tar Heels scored in double figures with Paige leading the way with 22 points to go along with eight assists and no turnovers. Johnson, Britt and Kennedy Meeks scored 17 each.
Carolina improves to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the ACC while Syracuse falls to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the league.
© 2015 CB3media Cary, NC
Heel Prints reviewed each UNC game
As a student sports editor years ago, prior to the season, Clifton Barnes predicted a national championship for the Tar Heels and indeed they won. In fact he wrote his lede paragraph for the national championship game almost a year early. He regrets that he didn't keep a journal after each game. He kept a journal after each game of the 2007-2008 season and you can reach them here. At the request of readers, he has kept up his journal of each game ever since. He also has written about UNC baseball and wrote an analysis after each 2008 UNC football game.
Editor's Note: HeelPrints chronicled the UNC basketball, baseball and football seasons for 2008 and 2009. Since the vast majority of comments I get about the site relate to basketball and since this isn't a paying job for me, I decided to limit my coverage and analysis to basketball. Baseball and football will remain archived and if I have comments or opinions I want to make on those or any other sports at UNC, I will make them here on the front page and then archive them in the corresponding sports section. Thanks for all the positive comments I have received about the site. Should I get sponsorship in the future, I will reconsider adding baseball and football again. Ironically, my favorite sports to watch in person are baseball and football. But my first connections to UNC came from watching Dean Smith's basketball teams on TV or listening to them on the radio in the days before all the games were televised. It should come as no surprise that people pay more attention to the basketball coverage. Thanks for your interest in this site.