After the hot ACC start, Clemson's regression towards the mean this past week isn't all too surprising.
Pittsburgh will likely be a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, and "The Pete" has been unforgiving to most any opposing team that's entered its doors.
The story at North Carolina is, uh, well-known.
Troubling, though, is how the losses have come about: Not. Even. Close. Bad offense. Bad defense. And a number of questions with still 11 conference games left - three of the next four on the road.
This past week a usually stingy 'D' gave up 25 more points (78) and 20 percent worse shooting (56) a game than they had averaged going in.
Tigers have to keep 'fighting'
McDaniels shoulders blame for loss
After struggles the last two seasons, Clemson's head coach says they're having to adjust to the expectations their prior play set for them.
"We've got to figure out a way here in the next three weeks to keep hanging in there," Brad Brownell said, "Grind, and get better, and work ourselves out of the hole. It's also for the last week, we've been 4-1 and 4-2 in the ACC and we're ahead of everybody we're playing or tied and so these guys are coming after you.
"We haven't had that at Clemson in a couple of years so that's a new thing for us to deal with."
It can't go without saying, however, that North Carolina put together one of its best games of the season Sunday night in Chapel Hill, after starting 1-4 in ACC play.
"You know they've played with much more competitive spirit than I've seen on them in some other games," said Brownell. "They were really ready to compete tonight."
"It was a good basketball game for us," UNC coach Roy Williams added. "You need to have that sense of urgency every time we play. If we do have it, we've got a better chance. If we don't have that sense of urgency, it's really difficult for us."
K.J. McDaniels was the consistent factor he's been all season, but his frustration built through the night as UNC clamped down and made the rest of the Tigers beat them. They didn't.
Before the end of a 13-minute-plus FG drought into the second half, McDaniels had put up 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Combined, his Clemson compadres had put up 12 points on 2-of-25 shooting.
It's back to the drawing board heading into another tough environment and tough defensive team this Saturday at Florida State (3 p.m.).
"Our guys tried," McDaniels said. "We missed a few shots that we should have made, but we had a lot of defensive lapses. That's something we have to examine in practice and get back to the film and help figure it out. We have to learn from it.
"I need to just let them know that I have confidence in them. I know they have confidence in me, but I think I have to let them know that I have a lot of confidence in them. We just have to keep fighting."
Fight was a common theme out of Sunday's postgame, coming off back-to-back games where the result seem decided at half (and maybe more accurately, the first 10 minutes).
"I thought we were going to come back and fight," sophomore Tigers center Landry Nnoko said. "I knew I was going to come back and fight...I thought a couple guys fought, not all of us, but we're just trying to win the game."
The struggle is staying upbeat and together, a team unity that was forged a little stronger by last summer's Italy trip.
"I believe we just need to stay together," said McDaniels. "Can't get apart from each other. Got to stay positive. We're a team everybody's coming after. We just have to stay positive and keep moving forward."