UNC has bigger things to worry about than the Clemson streak.
Coming into the men's basketball game in Chapel Hill against the Tigers, North Carolina owns one of the stranger streaks in college sports. The team has never lost to Clemson in Chapel Hill, not once since the two schools started playing each other in 1926.
Fun as it may be, the 59-game win streak hasn't been a focus for UNC at all following a second-half collapse against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"I've said the same thing for 17 years,” head coach Roy Williams said on Friday during his press conference. “...It's a streak that people talk about, and you have nothing to do with it. It's going to end at some time, let's try to put it off another year. I’ve said that for 17 straight years and never varied from it, then I let it go."
In the midst of a disappointing season filled with team-crippling injuries, though, UNC has more to worry about than a streak that amounts to little more than trivia. The game against the Panthers showcased some new looks on offense that worked for a time, until they didn't, and the team wilted against an onslaught of threes from a statistically bad shooting team in Pittsburgh.
UNC's locker room has been shaken, both by the losses on the court and the players who have missed extended time due to injury.
"I think they were hurting a great deal after the Georgia Tech game and maybe even more so after the Pitt game," Williams said. "... Frustrated. Mad. Hurt. All those kind of things. I think we had a good attitude yesterday at practice, and I expect us to have a good attitude today."
The 1-3 start in the ACC is UNC's worst since the 2013-14 season, when the team lost its first three conference games in a row before eventually ending the season 13-5 in conference.
"Losing has definitely been frustrating for all of us," first-year center Armando Bacot said on Friday. "I feel like we all get the idea in our head that there's always another game you can play, but we just want to go out there and win. That's all we really care about."
Williams said the team has gone back to focusing on fundamentals in practice, working on things like closeouts on shooters or watching both the ball and man on defense. Postgame on Wednesday, Williams mentioned the team had tried to implement two new offensive looks, although he was satisfied with neither.
"We’re trying to get better shots. We’re working on shooting every day," Williams said. "Yesterday we shot, we shot a lot. So we’re still working on that even though that’s not easy to change. We’re working on getting better shots, which is a little bit of the offense thing."
The on-court product the Tar Heels have been putting out is fixable to an extent, but their health is not, as Williams noted. Despite the changes made, the team is still without first-year star guard Cole Anthony, whose status hasn't changed since his initial diagnosis.
"It's actually kinda crazy, there's somebody hurt every other day," Bacot said.
For now, the players available are the players available. Like Williams said at the beginning of the season: Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Cam Johnson aren't walking through the door for UNC anytime soon. Saturday will give the current team a chance to bounce back against Clemson.
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