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UNC 78, Wake Forest 64: Fortunately, Wins Come Easy Against the Deacs

[Editor’s Note: You may have noticed that since Zeke now lives in a country that is, unfortunately, 5 time zones removed from Chapel Hill, the site has been falling down on the job a bit when it comes to Carolina-related recaps and commentary. Well, we’re hoping to change that: Please everyone welcome friend of the site and new contributor Rob Weldon, who will be giving us UNC news from the sunny confines of California. Take a quick gander at Rob’s bio here, then read some his thoughts on the UNC-Wake Forest game below.]

Wake Forest arrived for tonight’s game at the Smith Center with a horrible record (8-17 overall, 1-9 ACC).  The computers that rule the mind of Ken Pomeroy has ranked Wake #255 in the country and just take a gander at Bart’s analysis of the ACC for more proof of their ineptitude.  UNC, as a young team finding themselves, versus a historically bad Wake Forest?  Most college basketball forecasters were looking at tonight’s game as a blowout for the Heels.

The final score was a 14 point win for UNC, but the Demon Deacons were a genuine test for the Tar Heels.  Maybe Carolina read too many of these previews and knew that they’d win, because there was a solid stretch in the second half when the Deacs got the game difference under double digits.  UNC got fat and happy with their decent 16 point lead.  Wake began to play like a team with a chip on their shoulder.  The players fought for every loose ball, gave the Heels some hard fouls and made sure Carolina knew exactly how the elbow feels in one’s ribs.

Interestingly, Roy saw this and did little.  As he is wont to do from time to time, he sat on his timeouts.  Four timeouts were left unused at the end of the game and I can’t help but suspect that this was a little coaching exercise by the UNC coach.  Wake was clearly outmatched at most positions, but was making a solid comeback through good fundamental basketball and hard work.  Were the Carolina players going to respond to the effort?

Of course, because of the final result one can claim that ol’ Roy is goshdarn possibly clairvoyant.  However, I’d argue that it was a good test for the young Heels.  Marshall starting taking care of the ball and being more thoughtful in his plays.  Barnes gave fans a number of thrilling - and assertive - dunks over the Wake players.  Henson registered another double-double in rebounds and points.  And Zeller, the high scorer with 18, collected 9 boards of his own.  Notably, Leslie MacDonald had a solid game of 13 points and 7 rebounds too.

Finally, although this was a win and a positive one in the respect that the Tar Heels responded to a hungry and aggressive team, there remains a statistic that is not good.  The three-point shooting percentage has bothered this UNC team all year, save a few wins.  Tonight’s 18.5% shooting from behind the arc is especially poor.  Not only that, they jacked up 27 of those shots.  Our bread and butter has been the consistency of Zeller and Henson.  I love Harrison Barnes’ savvy, but he got 17 points from 20 shots?  That’s the same number of shots it took Zeller and Henson to get 32 points combined.  Make sure the big guys shoot more, please.