Previewing Wake Forest

With the bitter taste from the upset loss a week ago still lingering, North Carolina travels to Wake Forest for one of its toughest contests of the season. The game will tip off Sunday at 8 p.m. at Lawrence Joel Coliseum and will be nationally televised by Fox Sports Net.

North Carolina (14-1) vs. Wake Forest (13-0)
Winston-Salem, N.C. - Lawrence Joel Coliseum (14,665)
8 p.m., FSN, Tim Brando, Mike Gminski, Jenn Hildreth

Quotables

"We played against Charleston. I want to play against Wake to get the bad taste out of our mouth -- beat a good team. I still feel like BC is in the back of our heads so we need to get a good win." -- UNC guard Ty Lawson

"They've got a tremendous amount of talent. It's kids who are hungry and still trying to prove themselves." – UNC head coach Roy Williams

"[Al-Farouq Aminu] was recruited really hard by North Carolina, but he said he wanted to play against the best. He didn't want to join them. He told me ... 'I really want to play against these guys.' I was like, 'Well, you've got your chance now. There's no more talking about it. We're going to see what you can do when you've got the big guys on you.'" – Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague

"You look at the stats, and it's eerie how closely the teams look, numbers-wise. They may be as big as anybody in the league, or bigger than anybody in the league." – Williams

"We really have nothing to lose." – Teague

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: No.4 Wake Forest enters Sunday's contest with a 13-0 (0-0 ACC) record. The Demon Deacons, picked third in the preseason ACC media poll, are one of just three teams nationally that are unbeaten, joining No. Pittsburgh and No. 12 Clemson. Second-year head coach Dino Gaudio's squad is deep and talented, evidenced by the fact that nine different players are averaging more than 10 minutes per game and a tenth is seeing more than eight minutes of playing time. The Demon Deacons' early season schedule has drawn criticism, ranking 212th nationally according to RealTimeRPI.com, but they posted a solid 94-87 at BYU on Jan. 3.

The Jeff Teague Show: The sophomore guard has developed into a dominant option for Gaudio this season, leading the ACC in scoring with 19.6 points and ranking fifth in assists with 4.2 per outing. The Indianapolis, Ind. native knocked down a career-high 31 points against UNC-Wilmington in just 24 minutes of action, and led a double-digit comeback against BYU with 30 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and 12-of-14 from the free throw line.

Stout Defense: Skip Prosser's teams in Winston-Salem were never known for their defense, but Gaudio has worked diligently to change that ship's course – and it's working. The Deacons lead the ACC and rank seventh nationally in field goal percentage defense (36.4) Wake Forest – thanks to six players that stand 6-9 or taller – rank third in the conference in rebounding margin (+9.3) and fourth in blocked shots (5.8). The Deacons also holds down the fourth spot in steals (9.5).

Offensive Firepower: Wake Forest counters its stingy defense with a well-oiled offensive machine, leading the ACC and ranking second nationally in field goal percentage (51.2). The Demon Deacons have connected on 50 percent or better of their shots in nine games this season, with no games below 40 percent and only two under 44 percent. Sophomore forward James Johnson has played a key role in those numbers, adding 13.5 points on 51.9 percent shooting and 8.2 rebounds

A Towering Freshman Class: Wake Forest's current crop of freshmen ranked third nationally coming out of high school, according to Scout.com. The headliner is small forward Al-Farouq Aminu (13.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game). The 6-foot-9, 215-pounder leads all freshmen in the ACC in rebounding and ranks second in scoring. Six-foot-eleven Tony Woods (3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg) provides an immense presence in the blocks and while 7-footer Ty Walker (1.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg) is only averaging four minutes per outing, his potential as a shot blocker is off the charts.

Smith Back on the Fast Track: Ishmael Smith has slowly worked his way back to full health after fracturing his left foot in September. The junior point guard missed the first two games of the season, and saw minimal action when he first returned to the court. But over his last seven games as Teague's backup, Smith is averaging 4.6 assists and 21.1 minutes per game.

Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated Wake Forest, 89-73, on Feb. 24, 2008, in Chapel Hill. Tyler Hansbrough led the Tar Heels with 29 points, while Wayne Ellington added 17 points and Danny Green contributed 15 points and nine rebounds in a victory that clinch a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament for the Tar Heels.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series against Wake Forest, 151-63. Despite the Tar Heels winning the last four contests between the two programs, the Demon Deacons have won six of the last 11 meetings. North Carolina owns a 10-8 record at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Projected Starters:
00 Jeff Teague (6-2, 180, So.) – 19.6 ppg, 4.2 apg
42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210, Jr.) - 9.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg
 1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, 215, Fr.) – 13.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg
23 James Johnson (6-9, 245, So.) - 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg
13 Chas McFarland (7-0, 235, Jr.) – 10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 Harvey Hale (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 6.9 ppg
55 Tony Woods (6-11, 245, Fr.) – 3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
 2 Gary Clark (6-4, 200, So.) – 3.0 ppg
44 David Weaver (6-11, 235, Jr.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg
10 Ishmael Smith (6-0, 175, Jr.) – 2.9 ppg, 3.5 apg

WFU Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Teague ... Johnson


Aminu ... Williams


Smith ... McFarland

(Photos courtesy Getty Images)


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