North Carolina coach Roy Williams probably thought he was doing Wofford a favor by scheduling the Terriers to a three-game nonconference series, but in the process, his Tar Heels did a little too much to benefit the So-Con foe. To cap the multi-year series on Sunday, UNC fell 68-64 at home, the second time in three seasons the Terriers bested the Tar Heels.
Both of those losses came inside UNC's home arena, the Dean E. Smith Center.
UNC was shorthanded in this game, with leading scorer Cole Anthony and Leaky Black both ruled out just before tip. Anthony, the program says, has a right knee injury and is evaluating treatment plans. Black, a starter along side Anthony, has a sprained foot. Both are out indefinitely, with Black labeled as game-to-game and Anthony's status more unclear.
Even shorthanded, a loss to Wofford is still a speed bump for the blueblood Tar Heels. Wofford entered the day 6-4 with losses to South Florida and William & Mary, among several others. Its best win prior to Sunday was to 3-8 Gardner Webb, which lost earlier this week to previously winless Kennesaw State.
Therein lies the program with the Tar Heels. When you think of North Carolina, you think of elite-level talent and five-star recruits. You think of a contender. This season, though, Anthony has been holding that mirage up and singlehandedly kept it together with smoke and mirrors. With a top-20 usage rate nationally (33.4 percent), he's been able to superstar his way to wins. Without him, UNC's offense is a mess and its talent a real concern.
If Anthony misses any time at all, UNC could be in some real trouble. The loss to Wofford is UNC's third-straight stumble and fourth in its last five, and looming Wednesday night: a road trip to red-hot Gonzaga, which beat Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. At 6-4 on the season, the Tar Heels have their backs against the wall and two of their best players sidelined with injury.