There are no nights off in ACC basketball. The Tar Heels found that out when they went to Atlanta, and they found it out again tonight in Winston-Salem. The scrappy Demon Deacons gave the Tar Heels a run for their money late in the second half, but UNC powered through foul trouble to come away with a win.
It has been a bit of a theme for Wake Forest so far this season. They have played good teams close a number of times, including tonight. UNC shot only 52% for the game to Wake’s 43%. The Tar Heels made eight of their 18 attempted three-point shots and Wake Forest sank 11 from behind the arc.
You can’t really discuss the game without talking about the foul situation in the second half. UNC lost Tony Bradley to concussion-like symptoms and whistle-happy refs put the remaining big men in a load of trouble. In addition to Joel Berry, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Luke Maye all finished with four fouls. UNC was up 19 points at one point, but that lead slipped away as the fouls started piling up.
Justin Jackson led the way for the Tar Heels with 19 points, narrowly edging out Berry and Meeks, who had 18 points each. Hicks finished with 16 himself. Meeks earned himself another double-double in 33 minutes played with 11 rebounds. He was the only Tar Heel in double figures on the boards. Berry had seven assists and Kenny Williams had five.
In Roy Williams’ postgame conference, he mentioned that the defense had a hard time keeping the ball in front of them. The foul trouble led him to using his smaller lineup. Williams applauded Meeks’ effort on the boards and the limited number of turnovers (11).
Obviously the big story will be the health of Bradley heading into Saturday’s game against Florida State. Bradley smacked his head hard on the LJVM floor and was down for a couple minutes before walking off a bit wobbly and immediately heading to the locker room. UNC said he had concussion-like symptoms and would be evaluated by a doctor.
UNC will have their toughest conference test of the season when they host the Seminoles on Saturday at the Smith Center.