After a four-overtime loss to No. 18 Alabama, the North Carolina men's basketball team slunk back to the locker room physically and emotionally exhausted. When head coach Hubert Davis walked in, he told his players to pick their heads up.
The Tar Heels seemed to leave it all on the court in Sunday's grueling matchup. However, a career-high 34 points from Caleb Love, an impressive defensive performance from Pete Nance and big-time plays from several role players still weren't enough to outlast the Crimson Tide in the 103-101 loss.
UNC left the Phil Knight Invitational with two losses against teams that, on paper, the top-ranked Tar Heels should have beaten. However, Davis refused to call the Thanksgiving weekend in Portland a disappointment.
"I was disappointed in a couple of outcomes, but I leave very encouraged," Davis said.
On Friday, UNC let an eight-point lead against Iowa State slip away in the game's final minutes. Against Alabama, the Tar Heels battled in a back-and-forth affair in which neither team ever seemed to hold an edge.
Both teams had ample opportunities to end the game in the final seconds of regulation and each of the overtime periods. Every time, the potential game-winners didn't fall.
Love missed two 3-point attempts at the end of the second half and first overtime. Alabama's Jahvon Quinerly also missed several shots that could have potentially sealed the game.
"A lot of late clock execution – you know, good or bad – really comes down (to) 'Does the ball go in or not?'" Davis said. "We had a number of looks in those situations – midrange, jump shot, three – that normally we make, and we just didn't make it."
Ultimately, the outcome came down to a hectic final 30 seconds. After Alabama center Charles Bediako scored down low to put his team up 102-101, he blocked a floater attempt from Love on the other end.