LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — North Carolina's 12-game winning streak is history after a season-worst shooting effort in a 71-65 loss at No. 19 Louisville on Monday night.
The second-ranked Tar Heels (19-3, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished 20 of 58 (35 percent) and 3 of 17 (18 percent) from behind the arc. Starting guards Joel Berry II and Marcus Paige combined to shoot 4 of 23 from the field against the Cardinals.
"Shooting 34 percent against a good team isn't going to get you a lot of success," Paige said after scoring nine points.
Monday was the latest in a string of off nights for Carolina's star guard. He finished 3 of 13 and made just 1 of 6 3-point attempts.
Since scoring 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting in North Carolina's 106-90 win at Florida State on Jan. 4, Paige is 12 of 57 (21 percent) from the field in his past six games.
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams hasn't lost faith in Paige despite his struggles.
"Am I supposed to put him out and send him to Siberia?" Williams asked. "He's one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. I'm going to stick with him. I'm going to coach him. He's going to try to take shots. I don't have any potion that I can rub on people."
Paige meanwhile is looking for answers.
"I play a big role in the team's 3-point success and I've been struggling recently," said Paige, who is a combined 5-for-36 on 3-point attempts in his past six games.
"We're a better shooting team than we've showed for the past couple weeks," he said. "We just didn't get the ball inside as much as we would have liked today. When we did get it inside today, we just didn't finish inside at a high enough clip."
The defeat marked a rough start to a three-game road swing that continues Saturday at Notre Dame. The Tar Heels scored six fast break points, all in the second half.
"We were brilliant with transition defense," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We did a fabulous job of making sure that we got in the paint. This was a record for us, we had 60 paint touches in the game."
Louisville (18-4, 7-2) only managed four fast-break points but did other things right to earn a signature win.
Damion Lee scored 24 points, including two free throws with 8.3 seconds remaining, while
Louisville controlled the paint 36-28 and edged the Tar Heels 41-39 on the boards.
There's plenty of time for the Tar Heels to bounce back as they look to remain atop the ACC.
"The ACC is a grind," Paige said. "We can't be perfect. We didn't play anywhere close to our potential today. They just got smacked by Virginia and bounced back.
"They felt they needed this game and we felt we needed this game. We just didn't match their intensity for a lot of it. It's an 18-game season. Last time I checked I think we're still on top of the league so we have some opportunities to get better."
North Carolina: Johnson led the Tar Heels with 11 rebounds. ... North Carolina fell to 2-1 against ranked teams this season.
Louisville: The Cardinals improved to 5-11 all-time against the Tar Heels but are 4-0 against them at home.
North Carolina: Visits Notre Dame on Saturday.
Louisville: Hosts Boston College on Saturday.