At halftime of Tuesday night’s contest with Wake Forest, North Carolina faced its largest halftime deficit of the season thus far when it went into the locker room trailing 47-25.

The Tar Heels lacked energy as they limped out of the starting block. Wake built a 24-9 lead thanks to a 14-0 run. The Demon Deacons closed the half on a 7-0 run. In several instances, coach Hubert Davis allowed his team to play through rather than call a timeout. Caleb Love missed all of his 9 shots from the floor.

It was, by all accounts, a disastrous start in a crucial game.

And ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said during the halftime break it could ultimately be costly.

“I think we don’t have to wait 40 minutes to put the Tar Heels in the danger zone. They’ve put themselves there already,” he said live on ESPN. “I thought the 9 (seed) was a little bit generous when we did today’s bracket update. It’s just kind of where the numbers fell out.

“But after today’s game — assuming the Heels go on and lose — they’ll be 1-8 against Quad 1 and the 1 is against Ohio State. And you know what? Ohio State has a losing record. So North Carolina’s best win is going to be over a team with a losing record. That does not sound like an at-large bid to me.”

UNC went on to score 60 in the second half and pushed for a comeback, but ultimately fell 92-85.

The Tar Heels (15-9, 7-6 ACC) entered Tuesday’s game coming off back-to-back losses. They appear to be trending in the wrong direction with 7 regular-season games left to play — three of them against ranked opponents and another against Duke.

Could the Heels go from a national title appearance to missing the NCAA Tournament altogether in one season? There’s time still to right the ship, but Tuesday’s first-half performance wasn’t an encouraging one.