On Monday night, North Carolina lost their second straight game to one of the ACC’s elite.
For the second time in just three days, that loss was the result of a second half collapse. Against Louisville on Saturday, the Tar Heels blew an 18-point lead with 18 minutes left in the game, succumbing to the Cards in overtime. On Monday, Virginia used a 34-15 run to start the second half to turn a one point deficit into an 18-point lead.
And Marcus Paige is sick of it.
“It is February, you know?” Paige told reporters on Monday night. “The season’s rolling. Great teams at this time are meshing together. You don’t have to keep preaching effort, keep preaching buying in, not worrying about your individual self.”
“(You should be asking) what can I do to help the team? How can I help a teammate? What is the best thing for North Carolina? And that’s something we’re struggling with right now for whatever reason.”
According to Brice Johnson, who spoke to Andrew Carter of the News & Observer, Paige has some harsher words for his teammates in the locker room after the game.
“He was like, ‘Hey, you guys got to look at yourself in the mirror and say whether you’re actually doing everything you can. Because if you sit there and say you are, then you’re lying to yourself,'” Johnson said, adding that it’s “really eating him up”.
Paige has had a bit of a disappointing season, struggling through the early part of the season with the amount of focus he faced from opposing defenses while battling through nagging injuries to his ankles and feet. He’s come on strong of late, helping the Heels to a 7-1 start in ACC play, but the last two losses have been deflating.
But here’s the other part of it: Paige is right. I touched on it a bit last night — as did Jay Bilas, who was broadcasting the game — but North Carolina looked slow and lethargic on Monday. They didn’t have the kind of energy you usually expect out of a top 15 team playing at home on Big Monday. They’ve got some injury and illness issues, and Virginia has a tendency to deflate an opponent, but it was still somewhat surprising to see the Tar Heels allow the ‘Hoos to open up a massive lead without much resistance.