No. 19 UNC MBB Falls 73-67 In ACC Opener to Wake With Erratic Play
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Continuing the theme of playing to the level of the competition, UNC surprised no one when it found itself in a tough battle with Wake Forest. Scoring droughts and turnovers doomed the Tar Heels on the road against a determined Demon Deacon squad hungry for a signature win.
Wake Forest’s Travis McKie finished his stellar evening with 16 points while Tyler Cavanaugh chipped in 11 points of his own.
UNC’s Marcus Paige fouled out for only the second time in his career and finished without scoring in double digits for the first time all season. James Michael McAdoo led the Tar Heels in scoring with 13 points on the night.
Carolina shot just 39 percent as a team from the floor and failed to take advantage of its 51-36 rebounding advantage.
With the loss, Head Coach Roy Williams is now 11-6 against Wake Forest as a head coach while with the victory, the Demon Deacons improved to 11-3 on the year.
The Tar Heels won the opening tipoff, but failed to score when a Kennedy Meeks shot bounced off the rim. The perimeter pressure on the defensive end for Carolina resulted in a Nate Britt steal, but UNC was unable to get on the scoreboard yet again.
The first points of the game went to Miller-McIntyre on the charity stripe. He staked the home team out to a 1-0 lead with 18:35 left on the first half clock. Paige responded right back with a beautiful floater to get the UNC lead.
McAdoo knocked down an open jumper and then followed that up with a nice athletic run to the basket to pick up a foul. The junior made both free throws.
Britt drove inside for a nice make as the Carolina offense was rolling early on the offensive side of the floor, shooting at 50 percent clip from the floor . And sloppy Wake Forest turnovers were aiding the Tar Heel cause.
Brice Johnson slammed one home off a Paige assist to give UNC the 15-12 lead with 14:20 to play in the first half.
Leslie McDonald scored on a long-range jumper as the versatile Tar Heel offense was proving a tough one to contain for the Demon Deacons.
Meeks fought himself to the free throw line by going up strong to the basket. Meeks missed the second foul shot, but an offensive rebound kept the ball in the hands of Carolina.
Wake Forest nailed a three-pointer to ignite the Joel Coliseum crowd and Arnaud-William Adala Moto scored inside to close the Demon Deacons to within a single point of UNC at 20-19 with 9:30 left in the half. And the home team got its first lead of the game at 21-20 soon after.
A McDonald three reclaimed the Tar Heel lead, 23-21, at the under-eight timeout.
The Demon Deacons kept battling for the home crowd. A bank shot fell through the nets to tie the contest at 25 points with 5:56 remaining in the first half.
Some solid work by Meeks around the basket coupled with a Johnson slam dunk staked Carolina to the 29-27 lead at the 4:12 mark.
Wake’s Tyler Cavanaugh earned his way to the foul line and made both charity throws to knot the game back up at 29 points.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the waning minutes of the first half with Wake Forest getting the 34-32 halftime lead against North Carolina.
Paige was struggling for the Tar Heels, only managing three points while Demon Deacon Cavanaugh was leading all scorers at the half with nine points.
As a team, UNC was shooting 32.5 percent from the floor. Wake Forest shot an impressive 48 percent. Carolina held a 34-16 edge in the rebounding department, but Wake Forest got the free throw line on ten more occasions than UNC.
Britt slashed inside to come up with a score for Carolina to open the second half, tying the game at 36 with 18:49 left in the game when timeout was called.
Wake Forest came out of the locker room with plenty of intensity, but the shots weren’t falling early on.
Turnovers continued to plague the sloppy Tar Heels, but a nice follow-up by J.P. Tokoto tied up the game at 38 all with 15:30 on the second half clock.
The tide had turned swiftly in favor of the Demon Deacons with some nice work on the offensive boards to give the home team its largest lead of the night at 48-40 with 12:30 remaining in the contest. Moto was making his presence known.
The Tar Heels went cold from the floor midway through the second half, and the crowd had come alive with the spirited play of the Demon Deacons. The score was 51-40 on a 13-2 run when Coach Williams took a timeout to attempt to rally the Tar Heels.
Tokoto added a spark to UNC’s offense with the nine minute mark to close Carolina to within ten points, but Wake Forest responded with a McIntyre make. With 7:49 to play, the Tar Heels trailed the Demon Deacons 56-46.
Meeks scored off a beautiful pass from Paige to cut the deficit to eight with 6:10 to play in the contest. UNC was gaining momentum with a 8-2 run.
A contact technical foul was called on McDonald to halt UNC’s momentum, and Wake Forest took full advantage to push the lead up to 59-50 with 5 minutes to play.
Cavanaugh made a clutch shot with just under four minutes remaining as the Wake Forest offense kept clicking in the crucial closing minutes. McDonald’s jumper was good to keep Carolina alive down 64-56 with 3:05 to go.
Paige’s first three-pointer on the night followed and trimmed the lead down to five points. The shooting suddenly went cold for Wake Forest, but with 1:03 to go, McKie stopped the skid with a three-point play that gave Wake Forest a 66-61 lead.
Paige exited the floor with his fifth foul. It was his first game all year not scoring in double figures. To the delight of the Wake Forest faithful, the Demon Deacons trotted off the court with the hard-fought victory.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a return to the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill for a Wednesday meeting with the 8-6 Miami Hurricanes.
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