ST. LOUIS — Silence covered North Carolina’s locker room like death, but that coldness hit the Tar Heels long before the final seconds slipped away.
Harrison Barnes scored UNC’s last point, a free throw, with 3:58 to play. North Carolina played the final four minutes of its season without ever rustling the nylon.
“They changed their defense to a triangle-and-two,” Barnes said. “It was tough for Z to get the ball. It was tough for me to get the ball near the basket and try and create off of that. We just didn’t make shots as a team.”
That’s what made UNC’s 80-67 loss especially difficult for the Tar Heels to absorb – that and a few things. Kansas and North Carolina played possibly the best first half of basketball for both teams and entered their locker rooms tied at 47.
UNC shot 64 percent in the first half but just 23 in the second.
No team in the history of North Carolina’s basketball program shot the ball worse than this team did in a single half, and it followed a 21-for-33 first-half clinic.
“It was a game of runs, and we didn’t answer the last one,” Williams said.
Barnes’ free throw brought UNC within one point, and had he made both the game would have been tied. Even still, UNC had a chance to grab the lead when senior forward Tyler Zeller blocked Tyshawn Taylor on the ensuing possession and reclaimed the ball.
Instead, the Tar Heels collapsed.