Tech lost a nail biter to UNC this past Wednesday, falling 83-82 at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The team was a back-and-forth affair for much of the game with seven lead changes and 16 ties. The game came down to the final minutes once again, with this one going down to the final play. Unfortunately, Tech was unable to win, losing its sixth game of seven points or less.
“It was really disappointing. This game meant a lot to us…. Things just didn’t go our way,” said sophomore forward Zack Peacock.
“It might be a little more disappointing to me than it is to Zack [as] this is my last season. This is very hard on me and [fellow seniors] Anthony Morrow and Matt Causey,” said senior forward Jeremis Smith.
Peacock had two opportunities at the end of the game, but despite calls for a foul call, was unable to make the basket and saw UNC take possession of the ball with just half a second remaining in the game.
“[That second shot] was the cleanest shot you can get in the basketball game,” Peacock said.
Despite the opportunity at the end, the team had built a lead in the second half and saw it slip away with turnovers and mistakes.
“We had a couple [turnovers] when we had the seven point lead that let them back in the game. We only had 12 turnovers, which is terrific, but at the time when we had a chance to, if nothing else, hold them at bay…we didn’t,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
Tech had four players in double figures with Smith leading the team with 15 points. Gani Lawal ran into foul trouble, but was still able to get 13 points and six rebounds in only 16 minutes of play. All his rebounds were offensive boards.
Lawal started off the game with Tech’s first points, getting two offensive boards off his own shots before putting the basket in. He played well in the paint in the little time he was in the game, getting five of his six rebounds in the first half.
Fellow freshman Mo Miller also played well, finishing with seven points and five assists.
“It’s not a moral victory, but I do take a positive in that Mo is coming along,” Hewitt said.
Tyler Hansbrough continued his dominance over Tech, leading the Tar Heels with 27 points and 11 rebounds. He went to the line more times than the entire Tech team combined, hitting 13-for-15 of his shots.
The fans took issue with the officiating throughout the game, booing particularly loudly when there was some contact over an out of bounds ball late in the game.
The match up between the two teams saw two different halves from both squads. Both teams had high-scoring offenses on the floor during the first half while the second saw the players play more defensively.
The teams also exchanged points off of transitions, outrunning the other team any chance they had. UNC had 48 points in the paint while Tech had just 32.
“We think we can run. [UNC is] probably the fastest team in the country. I don’t think anyone takes a shot or a turnover and turns it into points faster than North Carolina. We showed ourselves that we could run with the fastest team in the country,” Hewitt said.
Almost all of Tech’s close losses have come down to the final minutes of the game.
“This team hasn’t frozen all year. We played the best teams in the country… and Vanderbilt was the only one that put us away,” Hewitt said.
The team next plays Virginia Tech at home at 1 p.m.
“Saturday has to be the turning point for this team, plain and simple…. We’re letting some time slip away,” Hewitt said.