North Carolina vs. Louisville score: It's full steam ahead for surging Tar Heels after avenging earlier bad loss to Cardinals
That blowout loss to Louisville, and other early defeats, may seem like ancient history to North Carolina
"I feel like I've done the worst job with this team in 31 years as a head coach," Williams said back then. "I've coached for 31 years. And, right now, my coaching sucks."
UNC was 6-2 after that game.
The Tar Heels' best win to date was an 11-point win at Wofford that looks great now but was merely a victory over a sub-100 KenPom team at the time. A game against Gonzaga was right around the corner. So there was a reasonable chance things would get worse before they got better -- and that was if they got better.
But now look.
The Tar Heels entered this weekend with an 8-1 record in their past nine games with the lone loss being a surprising 21-point loss at home to Chris Mack's Louisville Cardinals that UNC spent Saturday avenging. No, the Tar Heels didn't beat Louisville at Louisville as badly as Louisville beat North Carolina at North Carolina three weeks ago. But UNC did jump to a 19-point first-half lead and then basically cruised to a 79-69 victory at the KFC Yum! Center that snapped Louisville's six-game winning streak.
"Chris and I changed spots today from what we did three weeks ago," Williams said, accurately. "My team did some really good things."
Like rebound, for instance.
Louisville missed 36 shots in the game and only grabbed seven offensive rebounds -- which means North Carolina had a defensive-rebounding percentage of 80.6. That's a better rate than any team in the nation currently possesses on the season. Meantime, on the other end of the court, the Tar Heels grabbed 18 of the 40 field goal attempts they missed -- which means UNC had an offensive-rebounding percentage of 45.0. And that's a better rate than all but one team in the nation currently possesses on the season.
"[We] let Carolina dismantle us on the glass," Mack said.
Big-picture, things are still good with Louisville. The Cards are 16-6 with nine wins over top-100 KenPom teams and zero sub-70 losses. More specifically, four of their six losses are to teams ranked in the top 10 of Saturday morning's Top 25 And 1. So the resume remains strong. But it should be noted that this loss was the start of a brutal four-game stretch that'll also include a game at No. 12 Virginia Tech (Monday), a game at No. 25 Florida State (Saturday) and a home game with No. 2 Duke (Feb. 12). So the losses might start to stack if Louisville doesn't play with the type of energy Mack said was missing against North Carolina.
Keep an eye on that.
As for the Tar Heels, they're a long ways from stinking. They've now won seven straight since that 21-point loss to Louisville and are 17-4 overall, 7-1 in the ACC and No. 9 in the AP poll. They own 10 wins over top-100 KenPom teams -- among them victories over Gonzaga and Virginia Tech. And they have zero sub-35 losses. So I'm not exactly sure where this ranks on the list of the best coaching jobs Roy Williams has ever performed, but what I do know is that it can't possibly still rank last.
UNC is done stinking.
This dismantling of Louisville was the latest piece of evidence.
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