So many dreams, Michael Jordan has created, for North Carolina. In the first half last night, Jordan began so sweet again, gingerbread and lollipops dancing from his base-line jumpers, with 15 points.
"And I was in a groove," said the sophomore guard, who made six of 11 shots from the field in the half.
In the second half, though, Jordan's silk turned to sandpaper. Herman Veal's every breath slapped Jordan in the face, so closely was his coverage.
Consequently, Jordan didn't score in the second half until only six minutes remained in Maryland's 106-94 boondoggle of a victory at sold-out Cole Field House. By that time, the Terrapins' lead was already 19 points.
Miracle Michael, making only three of 11 shots in the second half, had become Mundane Michael.
And Jordan was off in his own eerie dream world.
"It all felt so funny during the second half," said Jordan, who finished with 22 points, shooting an unmiraculous nine of 22. "It all felt like a dream. We just weren't doing anything; we were just standing around. I've never seen anything like it before. Never. Ever."
It was all so very quiet in that Tar Heel locker room. These defending national champions, rated No. 3 in the nation, are 21-5, but have lost two straight games now. Villanova beat the Tar Heels, 56-53.
"When you lose two straight games, you have to look at some things; we need to regroup," said Matt Doherty, North Carolina forward who scored 21 points.
Coach Dean Smith stood outside the locker room, smoking cigarettes until, just maybe, a lost evening would end.
"Was it hot in here tonight?" Smith said. "I usually don't sweat until the end of the game. But tonight, I was sweating from the beginning."
It's no wonder. Even though Carolina led, 46-40, at halftime, you had to wonder. With one minute left in the half, Maryland guard Jeff Adkins lobbed the ball to center Ben Coleman, wide open underneath the basket. Accidentally, though, Adkins' pass went into the basket.
For a three-point play, no less.
Bemoaning it all, Carolina guard Jimmy Braddock said, "I couldn't believe it. Maybe Lefty ought to put that in his playbook from now on."
Across the hallway, where disco music gave the victory a beat in the Maryland locker room, Adkins was saying, "I've never done anything like that before. And I'll probably never do anything like that again."
Then, there was the pass Adkins threw to forward Lenny Bias in the second half that Bias caught in midair and then slammed dunked so violently, the rim didn't stop shaking for 15 seconds. Carolina was shaking by then, too, trailing, 67-54, with 10:48 left.
Bias caught the ball over the head of Carolina's 6-foot-11 Brad Daugherty and then landed on Daugherty's back on his return to earth.
"When I looked up," Daugherty said in the quietude, "all I saw was the ball."
"Kinda like a piggyback ride," Bias said to the beat of the tape deck.
North Carolina shot 54 percent from the field in the first half. In the second half, the Tar Heels shot only 41 percent. "What happened? I was just going to ask you that," Braddock said.
"We played man-to-man (defense) the whole second half and we gambled. Maryland's offensive efficiency in the second half? It seemed like they scored every time down the court."
By the end of the game, these proud Tar Heels were reduced to long-range three-point attempts. They were prayers that were answered by the chants, the ones that represented a Maryland victory guaranteed, of "Amen! Amen! Amen!" in Cole Field House.
"We definitely took one of their best shots tonight," Braddock said.
And Veal, who said he volunteered at halftime to guard Miracle Michael Jordan, said to the beat, "I was just hoping he wouldn't embarrass me by scoring 25 points in the second half. I was just playing out of a fear of failure."
Jordan said of Veal, "I just couldn't get away from him."