By Adam Lucas
1. Good home ACC win for the Tar Heels, outlasting Wake Forest with a strong second half, 88-79.
2. With a game featuring hosts of rotations, the Tar Heels changed the game by going to three guards with 14:09 remaining. Seth Trimble’s defense disrupted the Deacon offense, and it also allowed RJ Davis to spend some time off the ball offensively, which opened up some scoring opportunities. The Heels were down 56-52 when Hubert Davis made the lineup switch. Keep in mind that Trimble also had a huge offensive rebound and putback with seven minutes left (on his way to a career high 11 points) that was just Carolina’s second chance basket of the night on an evening when they were outscored 17-4 in that category.
3. Several of Davis’ three-point looks came after the ball had first gone inside to Armando Bacot, who for the first time in his career has four 20+ point games (he finished with 21 on 7-for-11 shooting). Wake simply couldn’t defend both Bacot down low and Davis (5-7 from three and 27 points) around the perimeter. The Heels continue to shoot much better from three at home than they do on the road; in this one, they hit 9 of 24 from the arc.
4. A combination of injuries and foul trouble resulted in some very unusual rotations for Carolina in the first half. Pete Nance left approximately two minutes into the game and did not return, which led the Tar Heels to turn to Jalen Washington. But he accumulated three fouls in four minutes.
5. That required Hubert Davis to use a very deep bench, including 11 first half minutes from Justin McCoy–who had two nice blocked shots and played good team defense. The problem was that the Tar Heel reserves weren’t scoring; even with five different reserves getting first half minutes, the UNC bench was still outscored 20-7 in the first half.
6. In fact, it was the offense of Leaky Black that kept Carolina close in the first 20 minutes. Black hit three three-point shots and also converted an old-fashioned three-point play on his way to 14 first half points. He set a career high with 18 points in the game.
7. RJ Davis became the latest Tar Heel to surpass 1,000 career points. Davis is the 81st Carolina player to do it, joining Caleb Love and Armando Bacot from this year’s team on that list. The Tar Heels far and away have the most 1,000 point scorers in college basketball, with Villanova next at 70. A fun fact about Davis’ achievement: he did it in just 83 career games. Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson needed 84 games to reach 1,000 points. The Tar Heel record? Lennie Rosenbluth did it in an incredible 40 games (and reached 2,000 points in his 75th game, and did it all without the three-point shot).
8. It’s true that Caleb Love didn’t have his best night. But he made two big defensive plays–a one-on-one stop of Appleby at the end of the first half and knocking away a lob that led to a Davis three-pointer in the second half–and also hit a clutch three – point shot in the second half. The Tar Heels, of course, do need him to be more efficient than 3-for-15, 1-for-7 from three, and four turnovers.
9. Wake coach Steve Forbes appears to be the closest thing Wake has had to Skip Prosser since Skip Prosser. The Deacons are well-coached and almost always run something effective out of timeouts.
10. Welcome visitor at the scorer’s table on Wednesday, as Marcus Paige was in town. Paige, whose season in Spain was interrupted by a shoulder injury that required surgery, was at the game along with his wife Taylor, a former member of the Carolina dance team. Quite simply, he’s one of the best Tar Heels of this century, on and off the court.
11. Hard to be much more efficient than this: Wake turned it over 15 times and Carolina scored 32 points off those miscues. On a night when there wasn’t much second chance offense, the efficiency–even in the halfcourt–off Deacon turnovers was a big part of the game.
12. Give a little credit to the Smith Center crowd. The fans who showed the commitment to make it to the Smith Center–on a Wednesday night at 9 pm with students out of town–were energized and into the game well past 11 pm on a weeknight. They made a difference in the outcome.