Tar Heels don't miss a beat against Wake

Feb. 23, 2014 @ 12:05 AM

Free throws were rarely missed, the ACC winning streak is at nine and February is about to turn to March.

At North Carolina, all is right with the men’s basketball world.

The Tar Heels blew out Wake Forest 105-72 Saturday afternoon in front of 19,248 in the Smith Center. Picking up where they left off 36 hours earlier against No. 5 Duke, North Carolina finished its fourth game in eight days by pushing the tempo and enjoying one of its finest shooting afternoons of the season.

“Without those losses,” senior Leslie McDonald said of a 1-4 start in the ACC, “we wouldn’t be the team we are right now.”

The Tar Heels shot 57.4 percent and had season-highs for points and 3-pointers (11-for-15). They also made 24 of 29 free throws, running their consecutive makes streak to a season-best 21 in the first half.

“It wasn’t just this eight-day stretch,” said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. “Our kids have shown a lot greater attention to details. They’ve shown a greater sense of urgency. We’ve played pretty good basketball in this whole stretch, not just in these eight days.”

North Carolina (20-7, 10-4 ACC), in retro uniforms styling the 1980s minus the length of the shorts, seeks its 10th straight when it goes to N.C. State Wednesday night at 8.

Wake Forest (14-13, 4-10 ACC), which beat North Carolina to open both teams’ ACC schedules, has lost seven straight since beating Notre Dame a month ago.

“It all started with the ball pressure,” said Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik. “We allowed them to be comfortable. We talked about it every timeout. Unless the ball is under duress, your defense falls apart from there.

“For whatever reason, we were not into the basketball game.”

McDonald scored 19 points, Kennedy Meeks 15, Brice Johnson 14, Marcus Paige 13 and J.P. Tokoto and James Michael McAdoo had 11 each.

The Demon Deacons were led by Tyler Cavanaugh with 19 points off the bench. Madison Jones added 15 and Devin Thomas 14. Wake shot 49 percent from the floor, hit half its 3-pointers and only had 14 turnovers, yet was never closer than 13 in the final 28 minutes of this Big Four clash.

McAdoo said the Tar Heels were ready to be tested with a national ranking again. He said they’ve been there before after big wins earlier in the season, wins which were followed by some humbling defeats.

“Nobody wants to go back to that place,” McAdoo said.

The Tar Heels’ nine-game streak against ACC foes is its longest since two years ago, when it finished the regular season winning seven straight and won its first two in the ACC Tournament.

Williams warned much is left in the season.

“You can’t just say, ‘Oh gosh, let’s catch our breath. That’s really good,’” Williams said. “There’s four games left to play and everybody is basically the same number of games.

“Bottom line is, it’s near the end of the season and we’ve got to keep playing.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.