Roy Williams should have reason to be concerned following his worst home defeat in 16 seasons at North Carolina. Maybe a visit from Notre Dame will help the Tar Heels bounce back.
The No. 13 Tar Heels look to rebound Tuesday night when they try for a sixth consecutive victory over the visiting Fighting Irish.
North Carolina (12-4, 2-1 in ACC) was on a roll entering the weekend, a winner of four straight with three of those victories by at least 20 points and coming off a 90-82 triumph at then-No. 15 North Carolina State. However, the Tar Heels' momentum came to a crashing halt with an 83-62 defeat to Louisville on Saturday at Chapel Hill.
"I am at a little bit of a loss, but that's OK," Williams said in his postgame press conference. "It happens in coaching. We have a wonderful group of kids that we have to better prepare, and we have a head coach who is trying but not doing very well."
While Williams is admirable in deflecting the blame from his team, the reality is the Tar Heels probably can't afford many more efforts on that level. Against the Cardinals, North Carolina was held to season lows for points, field-goal percentage (34.5) and 3-point shooting (3 of 22, 13.6 percent). Louisville, meanwhile, shot 51.9 percent, made 11 3s and held a 40-31 advantage on the glass. In Monday's AP poll, Louisville was a near-miss in the Top 25.
"I'm not too concerned about what they eat or anything like that, but basketball is a big concern right now," Williams said of his team.
Kenny Williams had a team-high 12 points, while leading scorer Cameron Johnson (15.8 points per game) added 10 and fellow senior star Luke Maye (14.4 ppg) was held to nine. Maye, who did record 11 rebounds for a third straight game, totaled 38 points in the previous two contests.
"Sometimes when things are going south it is hard to fight," Johnson told North Carolina's official website. "And we just have to do a better job with that."
The Tar Heels hope to be better prepared for this fight against Notre Dame (11-5-, 1-2 in ACC), which has lost five straight in the series since winning three in a row over North Carolina in 2015 and into '16.
Coach Mike Brey hopes to have team leader T.J. Gibbs (14.7 ppg, 3.9 assists per game) back after the junior guard missed Saturday's 69-66 home win over
Boston College due to illness. However, 6-foot-11 forward Juwan Durham, who has started his last four contests, could miss a second consecutive game with an ankle injury.
Left with just six scholarship players and stating three true freshmen for the first time in the Brey era, the Irish overcame a 34.4-percent shooting day to edge the Eagles and avoid an 0-3 conference start.
"You've got to ride through stuff like this, and hang in there," said Brey, whose squad has dealt with various injuries throughout the season. "It was certainly important to get a league win because 0-3 is a heck of a hole.
"I'm really proud of our team as we're trying to figure this thing out."
Junior forward John Mooney had a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds against Boston College. He's averaged 16.7 points and 12.0 boards in the three ACC games.
--Field Level Media
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