“It’s the first time this year I’ve said, man, he may be back to 100 percent defensively,” Williams said.
Strickland was one of four players assigned to shut down the Hokies’ most prolific scorer, but in tonight’s game against Wake Forest, Strickland and the Tar Heels will face a different challenge.
UNC will host a Wake Forest team that boasts two veterans who score 15 points per game.
Senior guard C.J. Harris and junior forward Travis McKie are the veteran leaders on a team that starts three rookies.
But Williams and his squad can’t overlook the rest of the Demon Deacons.
After inconsistent performances during the non-conference schedule, freshman Devin Thomas is averaging 10 points in ACC play.
“I don’t think you can ignore everybody else by any means because that’s going to get you beat,” Williams said. “Devin Thomas in ACC play, his stats are really, really impressive.”
The Demon Deacons will be especially motivated coming into the matchup after losing three straight following an upset win at home against then-No.18 N.C. State.
With so many players from North Carolina on Wake Forest’s roster, there will be the added pressure to perform against an in-state rival.
“I think that obviously the name across their chest will resonate,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said in the teleconference. “That’s just natural, especially with — we have so many players on our roster from this state.”
UNC will likely have to face a Wake Forest team hungry for another victory against a Triangle team without guard P.J. Hairston, who is suffering from flu-like symptoms unrelated to his recovery from a concussion sustained at Boston College a week ago.
The Tar Heels will have to take a cue from Strickland and play defense on an elevated level to stop what Williams called a “team offense.”
“I think when you’re playing Wake,” Williams said, “I mean, they’re playing seven, eight, nine guys, and you’ve got to be aware of everybody out there.”
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