Why might Saturday's 20-point rally (and loss) to Georgia Tech end up being worse for the Tar Heels than Wednesday's 19-point blowout loss at Clemson?
Because Saturday's loss was at home.
In a league as topsy-turvy as the ACC -- Virginia, picked to finish last in the league, is the only undefeated team, after all -- it's more important than ever to "hold serve" at home, because you never know how many you might be able to steal on the road. Especially for these Tar Heels, who are 1-5 away from the Smith Center this season, and 0-3 in true road games.
The loss to the Yellow Jackets began a stretch in which three of four games are at home (including Wake Forest and Virginia), with a game at N.C. State in the mix. If ever there was a stretch to boost the Tar Heels' win total (they stand 12-6, 1-2 in the league), and confidence, it should be now. Because the challenge only increases, what with seven ACC road games left.
For their part, the Tar Heels are trying to take a positive approach: "I don’t like losing, but I think getting hit in the mouth is good for us right now, being that it’s early and we can bounce back quickly,'' said junior Will Graves, who led the Tar Heels with a career-high 24 points Saturday.
But how many times does the team have to get hit in the mouth before it responds, he was asked.
"We are all blessed to wake up the next day; God wakes us up the next morning,'' he said. "We took a blow and we didn’t fall. There’s another game, and we’ve just got to keep fighting, and keep getting it in our head that we need to play from the start of the game till the end of it."
Especially at home, where they may not be able to afford to lose another one.
BRIEFLY: Forward Ed Davis had to get treatment on a sprained left ankle after the game. ... The Tar Heels won't practice again until Monday, as they planned to work with the Special Olympics on Sunday.