Wake steamrolls Heels, 84-62

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- The UNC Tar Heels reverted to early-season form in an 84-62 loss at home to the No. 23 Wake Forest Demon Decons. Cold shooting, a rash of turnovers, and poor rebounding spelled the largest margin of defeat in the history of the Dean Smith Center to drop the Tar Heels to 5-6 overall and 1-1 in the ACC. After three consecutive wins and what looked like an offensive rhythm, the Tar Heels took a step back today.

"At least, a step back," remarked UNC head coach Matt Doherty. "It was very frustrating. Wake Forest is a good team, but I thought we'd have a better showing than we did. It was very disappointing that we didn't.

"The thing we have to do is learn from it and get it behind us as quickly as possible, because the pace of the play [picks up]. I'm not talking about on the court. I'm talking about all of a sudden, Wednesday, we play at Maryland. We have to learn from it, get better in practice, and be ready to play. It doesn't get any easier for us."

Seven more turnover and eight fewer rebounds was too much for the Tar Heels to overcome, coupled with only 36 percent shooting from the field.

"I think (the rebounding margin) was due to a couple of things," explained Doherty. One, we trapped some early. We tried to get the ball out of Songaila's hands. We also tried to put pressure on their point guards, because their point guards have had some turnovers, and when you do that and don't get a steal, they put up a shot and you're scrambling and trying to find guys to box out.

"The other thing is when there are turnovers, it's hard to box out in transition. They've got numbers going their way, so there was a missed shot, and they did a good job of picking up the offensive rebound. There were some break-downs, but a lot of those things happened after a turnover or a trap situation."

Starting UNC point guard Melvin Scott gave his poorest performance of the year, with no points, only one assist and six turnovers in 9 minutes of play – several early which the Deacons jump out to a 10-2 lead.

"I never really got my rhythm tonight," said Scott. "It was experience for me – a big experience for me. I just have to build from this."

"I knew [the press] was coming," added Scott, "but I think if I had been more relaxed it wouldn't have bothered me that much. Those guys were long and quick, and they really came out tough against us."

The Tar Heels had worked against the press in practice, but they just couldn't match the intensity that they saw against WFU.

"It wasn't a surprise," said Will Johnson. "We were ready for it. For whatever reason, we didn't execute. We turned the ball over a lot, especially early, and it hurt us."

"It's hard to simulate a Josh Howard, who is 6-6 with long arms, and athletic" the Hickory native added later, "but we saw the looks and the formations, and we should have done a better job."

Towards the end of the first half, the Deacons managed nine second-chance points to stretch the lead to 14 at the half at 48-34.

Two quck 3-pointers to begin the second half brought the Heels to within eight points at 40-48, but offense would be difficult to come by from that point forward, as Carolina managed only four points during the next 10 minutes of the game.

"We were tense," remarked freshman Jawad Williams of the cold shooting. "We went out and didn't have fun like we usually do, and you could tell. We didn't make good decisions. We took bad shots, instead of, as in the past we made the extra pass and got good shots."

During that time, Wake Forest managed 21 points – 10 by Josh Howard – and the game was all but over with the Tar Heels trailing 46-69.

From that point on, the Deacons controlled the tempo of the game and cruised to an 84-62 victory.

"This is a special place to play and to win," said Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser. "It doesn't happen all that often, so I think this is one our kids will be able to file away in their memory bank and talk about afterwards."

Jason Capel led the Tar Heels in scoring with 13 points (5-13 FG's) and rebounding with nine (four offensive), but his shooting woes were indicative of the team as a whole. Brian Morrison was second in scoring but managed only 4-12 from the field; however he had no turnovers for the third straight game.

Adam Boone gave his best performance of the year with 10 points on 5-9 shooting, with four assists, and two steals, while Jackie Manuel struggled to a 2-11 shooting performance and only six points and two rebounds.

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