Some days, you can't hit a shot to save your life. For Carolina, such days seem to happen in Lawrence Joel more often that not. The Heels hadn't broken 40% shooting in their last two Winston-Salem visits, and tonight was a new low – 31% from the field, making a dismal 22 of 71 shots. And these weren't difficult shots either. Open threes and two-foot put-backs alike clanked of the rim.
Luckily, UNC did everything right. They rebounded extremely well, getting 21 second-chance opportunities on the offensive end and 50 boards overall. Turnovers were extremely rare. And the defense was lockdown terrific. Only C.J. Harris would finish with double-digit scoring for Wake, a stat that belies just how good Reggie Bullock's defense actually was. Of those 19, 8 wee from the free throw line and another four came in garbage time after the Tar Heel starters had been pulled. No, Harris was only 1-6 from behind the arc and had four points at halftime. He was a complete non-factor, all because of Bullock.
The Wake big men were able to give UNC a bit of trouble on the defensive end. It was a physical game that often left bodies on the floor. But Kendall Marshall could often find Zeller or Henson on the baseline left open for a dunk; his six assists would have been double that had the bigs not missed so many layups. And left alone on the perimeter, Marshall hit two threes and was otherwise Carolina's best shooter on the floor, a definite improvement after Sunday's all-pass extravaganza.
The bottom line is, this was not a good basketball game. It was pretty horrible, in fact, and such a performance against a better team would be worrisome. But UNC showed a lot of composure when things weren't working, and the defense stepped up when the offense couldn't hack it. So what if we spent half the game spitballing about the 2009 championship team? A win is a win, and UNC proved they can win very, very, ugly.