The woes continue for the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team as they suffered their fourth defeat in the last five games, losing to Virginia 76-61 in Charlottesville on Monday night. The Tar Heels are now 1-4 in ACC play, the first time they have been 1-4 in conference play in twelve years. The Tar Heels are tied for last place in the ACC, and any positive expectations for the rest of this season are beginning to slip away.
The Heels faced off against a very solid Virginia team Monday night in the relatively new John Paul Jones Arena, and did not receive a very warm welcome from the Cavaliers. Virginia looked like the better team throughout the game, and the game was never really close in the second half. It is a rare occasion when someone has the opportunity to let the walk-ons play the last few minutes of the game against the Heels, but Virginia was able to do so Monday night.
Although as a fan I have tried to remain confident, the more I watch this year’s team, the more pessimistic I become. Other than Marcus Paige the Heels simply don’t have any playmakers, and even he has struggled mightily over the last seven games. The addition of Leslie McDonald to the lineup following his NCAA suspension was supposed to give the Heels a boost from the perimeter, but the Heels shot just 4-15 as a team from 3-point range against the Wahoos. Paige’s struggles from the outside continue as he shot just 1-6 from beyond the arc, and McDonald was only 2-7.
To be brutally honest, the Tar Heels frequently look pitiful on the offensive end. There are many times throughout the game where the team looks stagnant on offense, as if the five guys on the court have never played with each other and have no chemistry. Roy Williams doesn’t have the team running many offensive sets, and as a result the team often seems to have no idea how to move the basketball.
Kennedy Meeks continues to be one of the few consistent bright spots on this year’s team. The freshman from Charlotte had another strong performance and scored 15 points while shooting 7-10 from the floor, pulled down 9 rebounds, dished out two assists, and had a block and a steal, all in just 21 minutes off the bench.
Although his numbers from last night won’t wow you, Brice Johnson had a solid game and continues to be the most efficient player that the Heels have. Johnson scored 5 points on 2-4 shooting, had 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and one block in 23 minutes off the bench.
While I am not ready to throw the season away quite yet, it is safe to say that the Tar Heels are in serious trouble. The loss to Virginia drops the Heels to 11-7 overall and 1-4 in the ACC. All the talk around Tobacco Road is that unless the Tar Heels turn things around in a hurry, they may have to settle for playing in the NIT and not the big dance. The Tar Heels will face the Clemson Tigers who have surprised everyone in ACC country with their strong play, on Sunday, January 26 in Chapel Hill.