Wake downs UNC in ACC battle
Winston-Salem, NC (Sports Network) – Chris Paul racked up 26 points and Wake
Forest shot 32-of-32 from the free-throw line as the fourth-ranked Demon
Deacons posted an impressive 95-82 victory over No. 3 North Carolina in a
battle between two Atlantic Coast Conference powers at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Paul added eight assists, six rebounds and five steals while super-sub Taron
Downey delivered 18 points to lead Wake Forest (15-1, 4-0 ACC) to its 10th
consecutive win and an early claim as the top dog in the ultra-competitive
“I said last year, and I still stand by this, that I wouldn’t trade Paul for
any point guard in the country,” said Deacons head coach Skip Prosser. “I
think he stepped up to the challenge and rose to the occasion today.”
Rashad McCants, saddled by foul trouble throughout, poured in 19 points in 20
minutes for the Tar Heels (14-2, 3-1), who had won 14 straight following a
season-opening upset to Santa Clara in November. Raymond Felton and Marvin
Williams finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the loss.
“I’m disappointed in the result and the way we played, but I think it was a
heck of a college basketball game,” said Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams.
“You’ve got to have some help from the other team to come back against a team
like (Wake), especially from the free-throw line, and they didn’t help us
there at all.”
North Carolina, which came in ranked second nationally with a 52.1 team field
goal percentage, was held to just 11-of-32 shooting from the floor in the
first half as Wake Forest built a 43-33 lead.
Jawad Williams netted eight early points as the Tar Heels took a 13-8 edge
after six minutes of play. Downey, in after sharpshooter Justin Gray picked up
two quick fouls, then buried three straight three-pointers to spark a 16-4
Wake run that gave the hosts a seven-point cushion with 7:16 left in the first
“I had a feeling that (Downey) would be a big part of this game,” Prosser
stated. “We struggled a bit in the first half and he came off the bench and
lit things up for us.”
The lead grew to 10 after Paul, who put up 15 points in the opening stanza,
hit a three and Chris Ellis sank two foul shots to make the score 39-29 at the
Sean May tipped in a miss of his own shot to bring the Tar Heels within 41-33
with 1:29 before intermission, but Paul ended the half with a jumper to bring
the margin back to double-digits.
McCants had just two points and three fouls in the first half, but began the
second with a three-point play and a fastbreak dunk to cut UNC’s deficit to
43-38. However, the junior standout was whistled for his fourth penalty a
minute into the period and the Deacons took advantage.
Wake Forest reeled off 10 consecutive points, capped when Downey was fouled
beyond the arc with 15:46 left and drained all three bonus shots, to own a
commanding 15-point lead. The cushion reached 17 a minute later when Ellis’
three-pointer made the score 58-41.
The Deacons were up 83-69 with four minutes to go before McCants led the Tar
Heels on a mild rally. He delivered six points during a 9-2 run, including a
transition layup off a turnover, to get North Carolina within seven with 1:49
remaining. However, the Heels missed three long-distance shots in the final
minute and Wake continued to hit its free throws to seal it.
“We needed all 32 of those (free throws), especially down the stretch,” said
Prosser. “We knew Carolina would make a run.”
The game marked the first time the two in-state rivals were both ranked in the
top five at tip off…Wake Forest has won six of the last seven meetings in
the series, which the Tar Heels lead 147-63…UNC fell to 24-37 against top 10
opponents since 2000…Paul and May were honored prior to the contest as USA
Basketball’s co-Male Athletes of the Year. The pair helped led Team USA to a
gold medal in the under-20 World Championships over the summer.