Saturday's 20-point rally (and loss) against Georgia Tech might end up being worse for North Carolina's men's basketball team than its 19-point blowout loss at Clemson on Wednesday.
Why? Because Saturday's loss was at home.
Road victories have been more difficult to come by in the ACC this season than last. Over the weekend, visiting teams went 3-3 in the league, but they're still 6-16 overall - compared to 11-12 through Jan. 20 of last season.
That means it's more important than ever to "hold court" at home - because in this topsy-turvy league, there's no telling when you might win away from it.
"I think the old adage that we have gone by for years is every time you can get a road win, it's very, very important because they're just so hard to come by," said Tigers coach Oliver Purnell, whose team survived a 21-point comeback by N.C. State to prevail in Raleigh on Saturday.
"... Everybody's talking about how balanced the league is, and I don't disagree with that point," Purnell said, "but it's still very difficult to win, even more so. It's important because if it is that balanced, everybody's good."
In past years, UNC and Duke have done their parts to bolster the league's road-win tally; the Tar Heels lost only twice on the road to ACC foes over the previous two seasons, and Duke fell only six times.
This year, however, both are 0-1 in ACC road games; and neither has won a true road game in non-conference play, either. That could change, beginning when the seventh-ranked Blue Devils travel to Raleigh on Wednesday to face the Wolfpack. But it's hard to count on winning on the road when you haven't done it yet.
The key, says Maryland coach Gary Williams - whose team is 1-1 (including a loss at Wake Forest in overtime) against league foes away from College Park - is having leaders who have done it before.
"You have to have people who are mentally tough; that's the big thing," he said. "We're fortunate to have three seniors that have been in tough road situations for four years in Landon Milbourne, Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes. I think they help the younger players understand, in terms of preparation and things like that, what really counts when you step on the court - it doesn't matter if the bus is late or the plane's been delayed or whatever the situation, the game starts.
"... And you have to walk out there with that mindset. And you have to have some swagger. Not being cocky ... but knowing that if you play well, you have a chance."
The lack of that confidence is one of the factors that has hurt 24th-ranked UNC - and why it (and its league foes) could have a bigger challenge making up for a close home loss than a big road one.
Dribbles: Point guard Demontez Stitt, Clemson's second-leading scorer, sprained his left foot over the weekend, and it's uncertain whether he will be able to play at Georgia Tech today. If he's out, Purnell said, sophomore Andre Young, who is averaging 8.1 points and 23.7 minutes, will take his place.
"Andre Young is an outstanding young player, and has been in a lot of big games, and he'll kind of captain the ship, there," Purnell said.
Virginia was picked to finish last in the league in the ACC preseason poll. So why is it atop the ACC standings, having already won more than last year?
"The team is a year older, so there's maturity," said first year coach Tony Bennett. "Some of these guys have some ACC games under their belt, and they're a hard-working group."
That begins with sophomore Sylven Landesberg. He's averaging 17.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt called him one of the two best ACC players he has seen this season (along with Duke's Jon Scheyer).