Previewing Wake Forest

In hindsight, Maryland and Georgia Tech were mere tuneups. This Saturday, the No. 3 Tar Heels travel down I-40 for their toughest matchup to date -- No. 4 Wake Forest. Tip-off at Joel Coliseum will be at 1:39 p.m. and televised by ABC. <br><br><b> <center>(<a target=new href=>Live Stats</a> ... <a href=>In-Game Chat</a>)</b></center>

North Carolina (14-1, 3-0) vs. Wake Forest (14-1, 3-0)
Winston-Salem, N.C. - Lawrence Joel Coliseum
1:39 p.m., ABC (Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale, Doris Burke)


"The college basketball axis will rotate around Winston-Salem, N.C., on Saturday afternoon." -- Skip Prosser

"It's a team game played by individuals. In this game, the individual matchups are very intriguing." -- Skip Prosser

"[Justin Gray] has incredible confidence. He has a total lack of conscience when it comes to shot discipline. And I think when he feels it, it's gone. If it's leather and he's off the bus, he's throwing it at the basket. And lately it has been going in." -- Skip Prosser

"It's going to be an even match. They do some things extremely well and we do some things extremely well. It's going to be great to see [Paul and Felton] go at it." -- Jackie Manuel

"We've had a string of games in which all we had to do was not screw it up and we would win. Now, tomorrow, the team that plays the best is the team that's going to win. ... Nothing can be casual. "Casual" better be left on the couch, or we'll have no chance. I love these kinds of games. ... We'll show up to play. I think I've got a group of kids that want to play well and want to show up well on the big stage." - Roy Williams


Last Year Vs. UNC: The Dec. 20, 2003 showdown proved to be one of the greatest games in ACC history. It took three overtimes and plenty of missed free throws (both teams shot under 55% from the line), but the Deacs prevailed, 119-114. Raymond Felton (22 pts, 11 ast) and Rashad McCants (25 pts) led the Heels, while Eric Williams (24 pts, 8 reb) was Wake's top performer. The rematch was six weeks later in Winston-Salem, and was a decidedly different contest. Melvin Scott's 20 points paced UNC en route to a 79-73 win. Sean May also added 18 points and 10 boards, while Jamaal Levy posted 19 points and 10 boards for Wake.

Season To Date: Except for a 91-73 thumping in early December at Illinois (who put on a near-flawless performance), Wake Forest is off to a strong start. Against one of the nation's toughest non-conference slates, the Deacs have rattled off impressive wins over George Washington, Providence, Arizona (to win the preseason NIT title), Temple, Texas and at New Mexico. And on top of that, they've won their first three ACC games (Virginia, Clemson, Maryland) by an average margin of 23 points.

PG Showdown III: First John Gilchrist, then Jarrett Jack and now Chris Paul. That's as tough a three-game run of point guards as any player will see at the college level. Two down, one to go for Raymond Felton -- though Paul is likely to be the biggest challenge of the three. The two played pretty close to a draw in both matchups last season, though it's Paul who carries the Preseason Player of the Year honor. The in-state product is quick and deceptively strong for his size, excels especially on the break and is an excellent passer and accurate three-point shooter. His assist-to-turnover ratio through 14 games is 2.31, after posting a 2.22 mark last season.

Containing Big E: After the triple-overtime loss last season, in which Eric Williams and backup Kyle Visser combined for 36 points and 16 boards, Sean May was quick to point the finger at himself. "I take the blame for this and I apologize for letting my team down," said May, who struggled defensively and then fouled out. He vowed to do better in the rematch, and the results speak for themselves -- the Tar Heels won, while Williams and Visser combined for just 10 points and six boards. The matchup in the post isn't the only determining factor Saturday, but it's probably the most important. May will get his points and rebounds, that's a given, however his ability to contain the 6-9, 291-pound Williams (as well as capable backups Visser and Chris Ellis), will be crucial for Carolina.

Long-Range Marksman: The Deacs have a versatile offense and aren't heavily reliant on the three-point shot, but it's still their best weapon. They're shooting 42% from beyond the arc as a team, with Justin Gray taking the most (at a 44% clip). Paul takes less than three three-pointers per game, but he's shooting an impressive 58% from out there.

Projected Starters:
 3 Chris Paul (6-0, 175, G, So.) – 14.3 ppg, 6.4 apg
 1 Justin Gray (6-2, 186, G, Jr.) – 17.2 ppg
10 Jamaal Levy (6-9, 186, F, Sr.) - 8.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg
13 Vytas Danelius (6-9, 237, F, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
31 Eric Williams (6-9, 291, C, Jr.) - 15.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 Taron Downey (6-2, 190, G, Sr.) – 8.0 ppg
33 Trent Strickland (6-5, 212, F, Jr.) – 6.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
55 Kyle Visser (6-11, 250, C, So.) – 4.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg
00 Chris Ellis (6-9, 261, F, So.) – 4.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg

WF Info
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Paul ... Levy

Gray ... Williams

Downey ... Danelius

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