Letdown? What letdown?
UNC, wearing classic uniforms from the era of Jordan, Worthy and Perkins put on a performance reminiscent of those days. The Heels scored 52 points in the first have then exceeded it by one in the second to beat Wake Forest 105-72. It is UNC's 20th win of the season and the 10th in ACC play. The Heels have now won nine in a row.
Heading into this game there were concerns about a letdown playing 36 hours after a huge win over Duke. Early on the Heels were a little rusty on the defensive end. James Michael McAdoo in particular struggled on both ends missing shots short then giving up baskets in the post. He eventually snapped out of his funk after being chastised by Roy Williams by getting an authoritative dunk in transition. Still, UNC struggled a bit with Wake Forest driving to the basket. The Deacs shot 49% from the floor and was 52% in the second half.
The offense had no such issues as evidenced by an offensive rating of 148.7. It started with Kennedy Meeks who was ineffective in the first game against Wake Forest. That was not the case this time. Meeks scored UNC's first six points and after an injury scare scored two baskets in transition thanks in part to him running the floor. He finished the half with 12 points and had 15 for the game. Leslie McDonald picked up where he left off against Duke hitting five threes on the day including three in the first half. McDonald's effort was part of a big day from the perimeter for UNC and his second straight game leading the Tar Heels in scoring with 19 points. The Heels were 11-15 from three for 73% which is a UNC single game record when there are 10 or more makes. Even Wade Moody got into the act hitting a pair of threes including the one that cracked the century mark for the first time since scoring 102 on UAB last season.
On the day the Tar Heels had all five starters and six players overall score in double figures with Paige going for13 and dishing out four assists. J.P. Tokoto had 11 points and five assists while James Michael McAdoo overcame a slow start to score 11 points. Brice Johnson chipped in 14 points coming off the bench. This game was also one of the Tar Heels' better days at the free throw line. UNC was 16-17 from the line in the first half and 24-29 for the game. Since starting out 1-8 from the line against Duke, UNC has gone 43-52 or 82%.
While the normal "Wake is a really bad team right now" caveat certainly applies, this game was everything UNC needed it to be. The Tar Heels dominated offensively and while the defense had some issues, this was a team that is really playing well crushing a team with a season and possibly a coach's job in a complete death spiral. In other words, UNC did what good teams should have done to a bad team at home. What's more UNC did it in a game that could have easily been a letdown. It was a complete performance from start to finish.
Perhaps the most important stat of the game can be found in the minutes played column. For the first time this season Marcus Paige played fewer than 30 minutes finishing his day at 28 with six minutes left in the game. None of the starters broke the 30 minute mark and Paige was one of only four Tar Heels to play more than 20 minutes. Given the four games in eight days UNC has had, capping that stretch off with a performance like this which permitted Roy Williams to rest key players was the best possible result.
UNC travels to NC State on Tuesday with a shot at winning their tenth straight game.