North Carolina knows that it needs to figure out how to win close games.
The eighth-ranked Tar Heels look to bounce back from their latest defeat Thursday when they visit Georgia Tech.
North Carolina (24-5, 10-4 ACC) lost 89-87 to Maryland on Sunday, falling to 2-2 over its last four games and 3-4 in its last seven. The Tar Heels have outscored their opponents by nearly 25 points in their 24 wins this season, but their five defeats have come by a total of just 21.
“This is very frustrating,” North Carolina sophomore center Tyler Hansbrough said. “We can’t crumble whenever the game gets tight. We have to be tough.”
Hansbrough, who leads the Tar Heels with 18.7 points and 7.6 rebounds a game, had a team-high 22 points against the Terrapins, while freshman guard Wayne Ellington added 17. The Tar Heels, who rank second in the country with 87.5 points per game, were outrebounded 46-33.
“They were more aggressive than we were,” coach Roy Williams told North Carolina’s official Web site. “They went after the basketball harder than we did.”
Williams failed to earn his 100th win in 127 games at North Carolina, but can still match Vic Bubas of Duke, who reached the mark in 128 games—the quickest for a coach at an ACC school.
The Tar Heels entered February 20-2, but lost 83-79 at North Carolina State on Feb. 3 and 81-80 in overtime at home to Virginia Tech on Feb. 13. Against the Terrapins, they blew a 13-point lead before building a 12-point advantage with just over 7 minutes to go.
“We lacked focus. We didn’t convert the way we should down the stretch,” forward Reyshawn Terry said. “We had another breakdown. We keep hitting the same wall. It’s making me a little nervous, honestly.”
Despite the loss, the Tar Heels are tied with the 21st-ranked Hokies and Virginia for first place in the ACC. Boston College is a half-game behind.
“We’re blowing opportunities,” guard Bobby Frasor said. “Every time other teams lose and put us at the top of the league, we give it right back and give everyone else a shot. There’s no way other teams should be competing for the league crown with us. This team should not have four (ACC) losses.”
The Yellow Jackets (18-10, 6-8) had a more encouraging month, going 5-2 in February. However, they are coming off their second loss in three games, a 75-69 defeat to the Cavaliers on Saturday.
Thaddeus Young scored 15 points and Javaris Crittendon, who leads Georgia Tech with 14.5 points per game, added 12.
“I’m not sure we could fight any harder than we did for about 37 or 38 minutes,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “We just didn’t finish the game.”
The Yellow Jackets have allowed just 63.3 points per game over their last seven after giving up 78.8 in their previous four, all losses. They wrap up their regular-season schedule Sunday at home against Boston College.
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, finish up with a home game against No. 14 Duke on Sunday.
North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 77-61 on Jan. 20 and has won three of the last four meetings between the teams. However, the Yellow Jackets have won the last three matchups in Atlanta, most recently an 88-77 victory on Feb. 10, 2004.