WINSTON-SALEM — At halftime of North Carolina’s ACC-opening 73-67 loss at Wake Forest, coach Roy Williams gave his team a message that it has become accustomed to hearing — a message his championship teams of the past once took to heart.
“At some point you have to make the decision to outwork other teams,” recounted sophomore guard Marcus Paige.
“This team isn’t talented enough to just show up and beat somebody just because we’re more gifted … You can’t just show up and expect to win because you have North Carolina on your jersey.”
That “North Carolina” has taken on a dual meaning throughout the course of this season. At times, UNC (10-4, 0-1 ACC) has played its traditional fast-break, high-octane brand of basketball, and then there’s that other North Carolina team that lost to Belmont, Alabama-Birmingham and Texas. Williams decried his team’s lack of consistency before Sunday night’s loss, and when the Tar Heels took the court against the Demon Deacons, he was only met with more frustration.
UNC outrebounded the Demon Deacons 53-34 — including a 17-1 advantage on the offensive glass in the first half — and took 21 more shots than Wake Forest did throughout the game. Yet the Tar Heels still fell six points short.