Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina returns to the basketball court tonight, as they'll travel to Wake Forest and take on the Demon Deacons. The last time we saw the Tar Heels, they played with as much pride and passion as we've seen all year long. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, as Duke overcame a 13 point deficit in the final 4 minutes to force overtime, where they eventually won the game 98-96. This was a squandered opportunity to salvage a lost season, but has been the case so far, Carolina doesn't know how to close games. They'll get a chance to erase that bad feeling tonight, against a struggling Wake Forest team.
Danny Manning entered the season on the hot seat, and hasn't done enough to save his job so far. They enter with a indentical 10-13 record, and have a loss to Charlotte back in the non-conference season. Brandon Childress leads the team in scoring, at 15 points a contest. He's one of 4 players that average double figures scoring, as putting the ball in the basket has been a struggle for this group. Olivier Sarr contributes with 13 points, and 9 rebounds per game. The 7 footer from France, anchors the interior on both end of the floor for Wake Forest. Wake Forest will look to salvage a lost season, with a win over their instate rival, whom they've lost to 3 straight times at home.
This is always the hardest game of the season, as you have to find a way emotionally to move past the heartbreak of losing to Duke. Roy Williams made it known in his press availability that his team was going to keep playing, and he was going to keep coaching. We'll find out if that was talk or if they'll back it up. 3 keys to beating Wake Forest:
1. Free Throws: Carolina was a abysmal 21-38 from the foul line against Duke. For all the reasons that cost Carolina the game this was easily the most controllable aspect, that they failed to execute. Wake Forest doesn't have the necessary the size to compete with Carolina, so hopefully the ball goes inside to Garrison and Armando for the majority of the game. That means there will be fouls aplenty most likely. Carolina needs to be more focused and concentrated at the charity stripe.
2. Timely Rebounding: In the three losses since Cole Anthony returned, there have been certain times in the game where they haven't secured rebounds when they needed to. That dictated the outcome one way or another. Roy Williams has made it known that the numbers don't tell the story of his teams' ability to rebound the basketball. We've learned the hard way these past few games, as rebounding isn't the strength it usually is.
3. Emotionally Ready to Play: This is the hardest part of this game. How does Carolina respond after blowing another lead at home? They have to realize that you have to move on, because Wake Forest isn't going to feel bad for you losing that game. Most years Carolina would be more mature, better equipped to handle this adversity. This is another challenge, for a team that has struggled to respond.
Series History: Like most teams, Carolina owns a winning record against a instate ACC foe. Carolina has dominated this matchup 161-66, and have won 60 times in Winston Salem. Carolina has won 3 straight in their building, including a 95-57 win last season.
UNC - 87th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.4 ( 122nd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.8 ( 73rd )
Wake Forest - 99th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.7 ( 77th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.6 ( 136th )
TV Info: Roy Williams will seek his 200th ACC victory, at 8 pm in Winston-Salem. ACC Network will carry the broadcast.