In December, North Carolina coach Roy Williams lamented that his team had a minuscule margin of error.
Up until that point, his Tar Heels hadn’t proven that they were capable of winning without playing up to their full potential.
Once things started to take a nosedive in a game, UNC couldn’t right the ship. The tailspins resulted in frustrating losses to Belmont, Alabama-Birmingham and a 1-4 start in ACC play.
If Marcus Paige was shut down, if James Michael McAdoo wasn’t scoring — forget it, UNC was done.
But in the games since the befuddling non-conference losses and opening ACC season slide, the Tar Heels have shown encouraging growth.
An eight-point win against Duke. A 33-point win against Wake Forest. A one-point overtime win against N.C. State. A two-point win against Notre Dame.
“I remember the feeling I had was that if everything is not working effectively, we’re not going to win. We have to play very close to our potential for us to win,” Williams said. “And the margin has gotten a little bit bigger.”
Though the margin of error hasn’t quite widened as far as Williams’ would like, the Tar Heels have developed a wide range of ways to win.
When Paige, UNC’s leading scorer and hero in the overtime win against N.C. State was held to single digits against Virginia Tech, McAdoo, Leslie McDonald and J.P. Tokoto stepped up to shoulder the load.