Head coach Hubert Davis tried to warn his team before the game. It doesn't matter who UNC plays — the level of preparation should always be the same.
“We were able to be successful on Saturday, and we had a game here on Tuesday,” Davis said, shrugging his shoulders in visible frustration. “It’s just a game in the regular season, and we needed to move forward and continue to grow and continue to get better — that was my message.”
The Tar Heels ignored his warning on Tuesday as No. 3 UNC lost 80-76 to unranked Clemson. North Carolina came out flat and was unable to overcome its largest halftime deficit of the season. The team’s complacency and lack of energy were evident all night, leading to UNC’s first home loss of the year.
Just over three minutes into the game, UNC’s slow start forced Davis to call a timeout. Clemson center PJ Hall found himself open behind the arc and sunk a triple to complete a 13-0 run. The game had not yet reached the first media timeout, and the Tar Heels already found themselves down 15-2.
“They were playing harder than us — that’s obvious,” Davis said. “I don’t know what a timeout, telling them we need to play harder, does. But we regrouped and understood that we needed to pick up our energy and effort.”
The players could that tell the energy was off — even before the opening tipoff.
Graduate center Armando Bacot said three to four players came out late to warmups, and both junior forward Harrison Ingram and senior guard RJ Davis acknowledged that the energy was not at its typical level.