Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde.
The No. 14 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3) were nearly upset by the Davidson Wildcats (4-8) on Saturday but escaped with a 97-85 home win in overtime.
It was a performance befitting one of the most schizophrenic teams in college basketball this season.
This was nearly the second defeat in a row for UNC. It came just a week after a home win over Kentucky and less than a month after a huge victory over Louisville. The Tar Heels have shown an ability to beat the best teams in the country, yet they already have a couple of bad losses that make you question their potential.
Although the players demonstrated some fight to push the game into overtime and eventually prevail, it's not the kind of result that inspires a wealth of confidence.
UNC started slowly out of the game but was able to build a 38-35 lead at halftime. Throughout the second half, the Tar Heels still looked sluggish. Their shots weren't falling, and the Wildcats kept hanging around.
Davidson had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Brian Sullivan's deep three-point attempt hit the front rim.
Roy Williams said that he wanted to make sure no Wildcats shooters had an open chance, via Tar Heel Blog's Brian Barbour:
Roy says they went to run and jump on the last Davidson possession to try and keep them from getting a clean look.— Brian Barbour (@tarheelblog) December 22, 2013
Once the Tar Heels got this game into overtime, you had the feeling that their talent would see them through to the victory, and it did.
Marcus Paige stepped up in a big way late in the game. His two free throws with 30 seconds left in regulation tied the game, and then he scored 11 of his team's 18 points in overtime. He finished with 17 points, which is impressive considering that he was shut out at halftime.
Marcus Paige had 0 pts in 1st half, 6 in 2nd half, 11 in OT— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) December 22, 2013
J.P. Tokoto led the team in scoring with 22 points, and he finished with a double-double by bringing down 11 boards as well. James Michael McAdoo added 19 points and seven rebounds. Kennedy Meeks played a big role with 13 points off the bench. The freshman forward made all six of his field-goal attempts.
Sullivan led all scorers with 33 points. He shot 11-of-21 from the field, including 7-of-14 from three-point range. As a team, Davidson shot 31-of-68 from the field. That strong shooting performance kept the Wildcats in the game.
But in the end, it wasn't enough. The Tar Heels locked down on the defensive end.
The good news for UNC is that it will have a chance to learn and recover from this close win before it starts conference play. The Heels play Northern Kentucky and UNC-Wilmington at home and then hit the road to take on Wake Forest on Jan. 5.
Williams has some time to iron out the problems that have plagued UNC so far this year and get the team ready for the pivotal stretch of the season.