BLACKSBURG, Va. — First, there was the Brandon Robinson news.
An hour and a half before tipoff, UNC announced the guard would be out against Virginia Tech due to "persistent neck pain," stemming from a car accident hours after a game against Clemson.
The fact that the Tar Heels would be without their lone contributing senior should have served as the worst of omens.
North Carolina fell to the Hokies in double overtime Wednesday night, 79-77, resulting in a sixth straight ACC loss and leaving UNC's other veteran leaders searching for answers in an 8-10 season that's becoming historic for all the wrong reasons.
"It sucks, to be honest," junior guard Andrew Platek said. "I was talking to my mom about this: I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team with a losing record in my life. It’s definitely different, especially at this level.”
A five-game slide has seen the Tar Heels lose in a variety of ways, but perhaps none hurt more than the most recent, in which they had not one, but two extra periods to give head coach Roy Williams his 880th career win.
Instead, the Hall of Famer remains stuck: at 879, next to his mentor Dean Smith, and in the midst of a trying season with a limited roster, one that he admitted was the least talented of his Chapel Hill tenure.
“I think we’ve been getting better, but guys, young kids need to be rewarded," he said. "It’s been difficult for this club to be rewarded.”
They had their chances. Sophomore guard Leaky Black was off on a game-winning 3-point attempt at the end of the first overtime. Before that, junior forward Garrison Brooks missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation.