No. 17 Tar Heels traveling roads close to home

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Cheryl Treworgy, TSN via PrettySporty.com
Cheryl Treworgy, TSN via PrettySporty.com

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – They may not have to travel far, but the 17th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball team is on the road this week trying to end a three-game losing streak and correcting issues related to turnovers and communication.

Tipping off against the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils (22-2, 9-1) at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday, the Tar Heels are coming off three close losses to Syracuse, Miami, and Georgia Tech.

After giving up an 18-point lead to the Orange and suffering a 78-73 loss at home on Jan. 30, two more dropped decisions on the road last week to Miami (83-80) and Georgia Tech (94-91) have seen the Tar Heels drop in the national rankings and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings.

Even while leading the ACC in both field goal percentage (34.9%) and steals (12.8) and sitting second in blocks (5), North Carolina has come up short it its past three games for lapses in its game that were non-existent during a 12-win span over their previous 13 games.

“We see the potential, we forced 21 turnovers,” junior guard Danielle Butts said following the loss to Miami.

“We see it’s there. If we can capitalize on communication like the small things, and if we didn’t do that and we forced 21 turnovers, just imagine if we can communicate and be on target, be in the right position, at the right time, weak side at the right time, hands up at the right time, then who knows how many turnovers they could have had if we had been on par on defense. It shows how good of a defensive team we can be, but it’s just the little things we have to capitalize on to get back there.”

After facing the second-place Blue Devils, the Tar Heels will travel to Raleigh and face the third-place and 10th-ranked NC State Wolfpack (21-3, 8-2) at Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday.

Having beaten the Wolfpack 79-70 at Carmichael Arena back on Jan. 9, North Carolina will face one of the hottest teams in the conference and the country on its home court named for the famed Kay Yow.

Playing in another important ACC matchup and rivalry game against a top-10 opponent while heading towards tournament time, the Tar Heels must prepare to face the added emotional intensity that NC State will play with as the two teams will play in honor of the former coach as part of the Play 4Kay – Kay Yow Cancer Fund initiative.