Previewing Wake Forest

The Tar Heels host a Wake Forest team Sunday that is coming off a big upset win over Duke. Tip-off at the Smith Center is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

North Carolina (25-2, 10-2) vs. Wake Forest (16-8, 6-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
6:30 p.m., FSN


"[Wake Forest head coach] Dino [Gaudio] has been fantastic. Not even talking about the job that he's done, but the whole situation. Not having to do anything with the games won or games lost. How can you be put in a tougher situation? And one that's personally more difficult for him than anybody because that was his best friend in the whole world. So I really admire him for the way that he's handled it. I admire him for the way that he's handled the team, yes, but even more so just the whole scenario." – UNC head coach Roy Williams on Gaudio dealing with Skip Prosser's death

"We had a good film session after the Duke game where we really got after them. There's a lot of things that we didn't do on the defensive end of the floor. We had some turnovers that we normally don't have, so we got after them pretty good, because everybody's patting them on the back and telling them how good they are. So we always tell them that the tape never lies. We're going to have to do a better job in conversion defense, because Carolina does a terrific job in pushing the ball up the floor." – Gaudio on his team following the Duke victory

Season to Date: Wake Forest enters Sunday night's contest with a 16-8 (6-5 ACC) record. The Demon Deacons boast the league's youngest starting lineup, utilizing three sophomores and two freshmen to reenergize a program that had struggled in the two previous seasons. Head coach Dino Gaudio's program has dedicated the 2007-08 campaign to Skip Prosser, and is using "One Team. One Fight." as the season's slogan, in reference to the former head coach's experience last spring with Operation Hardwood – a program designed for college coaches and television announcers to coach U.S soldiers in a March Madness-type basketball tournament in the Middle East.

Freshmen Forces: Forward James Johnson (15.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in ACC play) and guard Jeff Teague (15.4 ppg) have provided the inside-outside combination that was sorely lacking in Winston-Salem last season. Johnson ranks among the ACC's best in rebounding (3rd), field goal percentage (49.5 - 6th), blocks (33 - 7th) and scoring (13th). Teague ranks third in the ACC with 2.08 steals per game, and ironically, has almost as many steals (50) as he does personal fouls (53). Teague has posted five or more steals in a game four times, including six against Air Force, helping the Demon Deacons to a plus-3.58 turnover margin (2nd in ACC).

Road Woes: When Wake Forest defeated Florida State, 78-70, in Tallahassee on Valentine's Day, it marked the Deacons' first conference road victory since winning at Miami on Jan. 6, 2007 – a drought that lasted 10 games. Gaudio's squad owns a 14-1 home record at Joel Coliseum, but Wake is just 2-7 outside of Winston-Salem this season and 1-4 in ACC play. The Deacons are scoring nearly 10 points less per game on the road (66.7) than at home (76.5), while giving up over 10 points more (73.9 vs. 63.3). The biggest factor in the numbers discrepancy may be Wake's turnover margin – plus-5.5 in Winston-Salem against plus-0.3 on the road.

Warming Up From Downtown: While Wake Forest has been ranked near the bottom of the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage for most of the season, the Demon Deacons have been heating up lately from beyond the arc. In its last four games, Wake has connected on 48.6 percent (35-73) from 3-point range – nearly 20 percent higher than their season average of 32.3 percent. During the recent hot streak, Wake Forest shot 12-of-27 (44.4) vs. Georgia Tech, 10-of-21 (47.6) vs. Virginia, 8-of-13 (61.5) at FSU and 5-of-11 (45.5) vs. Duke. Point guard Ish Smith (8.7 ppg, 4.7 apg) leads the Demon Deacons with a 37.5 percentage (21-of-56) from long range.

Odd Fact: Junior guard Jimmy McQuilkin wasn't exactly on the Demon Deacons bench last season – he was directly behind it. The Columbia, Md. native served as a Wake Forest team manager before walking on to Gaudio's squad in January.

Last Meeting: North Carolina closed the first half on a 31-11 run and cruised by Wake Forest, 104-67, on Feb. 13, 2007, in the Smith Center. The 37-point margin of victory equaled UNC's biggest-ever win over the Demon Deacons. Senior Reyshawn Terry led all scorers with 23 points, sophomore Tyler Hansbrough finished with 16 points, and freshman Brandan Wright was perfect from the floor (7-of-7) in adding 15 points.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series against Wake Forest, 150-63. The Tar Heels lead the series 69-18 in Chapel Hill and 16-4 at the Smith Center. UNC has won more games (150) against Wake Forest than any other opponent, however, the Demon Deacons have beaten UNC six of the last 10 times the teams have met.

Projected Starters:
10 Ishmael Smith (6-0, 165, So.) – 8.7 ppg, 4.7 apg
00 Jeff Teague (6-2, 175, Fr.) - 12.8 ppg, 2.7 apg
42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 205, So.) – 10.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg
23 James Johnson (6-8, 235, Fr.) - 14.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg
13 Chas McFarland (7-0, 225, So.) – 7.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 Harvey Hale (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 9.0 ppg
31 Jamie Skeen (6-8, 245, So.) – 6.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg
 2 Gary Clark (6-4, 185, Fr.) – 3.2 ppg
44 David Weaver (6-10, 245, So.) – 2.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg

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