Sometimes, the win you need, doesn't come when you want it. Sometimes, you first have to lose in a place you never have and you may lose at home to a team who hasn't won in the Dean Smith Center since 2006.
But when that elusive win finally comes against a tough, experienced team in Tallahassee, Florida, it comes when it's most needed.
North Carolina (11-5, 1-2) came into Saturday's match-up against the Florida State Seminoles (10-6, 2-1) in desperate need of a win. Not for the sake of records or premature tournament talks, but for themselves. Last season, the Tar Heels found themselves on the wrong end of a 33-point loss and a few speculated if this game would be a repeat.
Saturday's game was a back and forth battle for 40 minutes. Florida State is known for their toughness and this is a Tar Heel team that has been described as "soft" for the better part of the 2012-13 season. However, in this particular 40 minute battle, toughness did not warrant questions.
"We’ve talked about being aggressive," said Roy Williams. "Today was the first time that I really thought that we did have a big-time sense of urgency."
Though, Carolina is still searching for who will be this season's "go-to" guy on the court night in and night out, P.J. Hairston was the "go-to" guy on Saturday. The sophomore guard finished with 23 points and four rebounds. The Tar Heels pulled down 41 rebounds for the game, 22 of which are defensive, while limiting the Seminoles to 19. Sophomore, Jackson Simmons, also provided a much needed spark off the bench on Saturday by scoring eight points in 15 minutes while adding to the rebound, assist and block totals for the game.
This is not a North Carolina team that will not be described as a dominant force defensively or offensively, however, this is a team that has the potential to compete and compete hard. This is going to be a North Carolina team that will have to fight and learn the meaning of scrappy over and over again.
This team has the potential to be an extremely fun or extremely frustrating to watch as they go through the inevitable growing pains. It's up to them to decide just how painful or rewarding this season of growing is going to be.