CHAPEL HILL/SMITH CENTER North Carolina lost its third game in four attempts on Saturday afternoon, dropping a heartbreaking 73-71 decision to Georgia Tech and failing to achieve what would have been a remarkable comeback.

For the second straight game, Carolina simply wasn’t ready to play. The Yellow Jackets raced to a big early lead and were up by 14 points at halftime, so even winning the second half by double digits wasn’t enough to dig out of the hole.

The Tar Heels once again had difficulties taking care of the ball, committing 17 turnovers. They also shot only 38 percent from the field, clearly not a number that will lead to much success. Tech shot only marginally better, 43 percent, and in the second half Carolina played some of its best defense of the season.

Individually, a great deal of scrutiny is being directed toward point guard Larry Drew. The sophomore had nine assists but shot just 1-for-8 from the field and added another five turnovers, and he also made several other plays that resulted in failure for his teammates.

Meanwhile, oft-injured senior Marcus Ginyard still doesn’t appear to be healthy. He has been completely ineffective during the club’s two most recent losses (Georgia Tech and Clemson), and it’s uncertain if or when he’ll completely regain his form from the 2007-08 season.

Worse, star big man Ed Davis tweaked his ankle against Tech and missed practice on Monday, as did Drew due to a hyper-extended knee.

Carolina’s problems have become a national story, with images of a frowning Roy Williams now littering the mainstream media landscape. It seemed unrealistic at the start of the season that this team would compete for another Final Four berth, but no one including Williams could have expected the club to be so vulnerable in mid-January.

The Heels will advance to Wednesday night’s home game against Wake Forest, and another loss could prove devastating to team morale.

To see the full UNC/Tech box score, click here.