The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 7th

No. 1 Tar Heels Survive at Wake

Haywood, who had just sent Wake Forest forward Darius Songaila's baseline jumper into the crowd with 35.1 seconds left, began yelling "Not today. Not today."

Thanks to a late defensive surge by North Carolina, Haywood ended up being right.

The top-ranked Tar Heels limited the 19th-ranked Demon Deacons to four makes in their last 16 attempts from the field Tuesday night and escaped from Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum with an 80-74 victory.

UNC (20-2, 10-0 in the ACC) held Wake to just one field goal during a 6-minute, 21-second stretch late in the second half to overcome a five-point deficit with 8:08 remaining.

"When our defense needed to lock in, it locked in pretty good," UNC coach Matt Doherty said.

Haywood put an exclamation point on the Tar Heels' stingy stretch by racing out and rejecting Songaila's jumper with UNC clinging to a 74-69 lead.

Haywood finished with four blocks, 13 points and six assists. He also helped limit Songaila to five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

"We didn't make great decisions on shot selection, and we didn't make our shots," Songaila said.

Wake, which shot 42 percent in the first half, quit making shots once it took a 63-58 lead on a 3-point play by Songaila.

The Tar Heels went on a 14-2 run during the next 5:01 and limited the Demon Deacons (15-7, 4-6) to 1-of-8 shooting during the stretch.

The Tar Heels began pounding the ball inside and got a combined 10 points in the paint from Haywood, Kris Lang and Julius Peppers.

Joseph Forte took over offensively at the end of that run and led the Tar Heels down the final straightaway. He scored six of UNC's next seven points after UNC took a 70-65 lead, including a 17-foot jumper from the right baseline over Wake's Josh Howard with one second left on the shot clock to put the Tar Heels ahead 74-69 with 1:09 left.

"Josh Howard is long, and the only way I could probably get that shot off was to fade," said Forte, who had a team-high 24 points. "So I faded, and I knew that we needed the bucket, so I really concentrated."

Forte, who shot 1-of-10 at Wake Forest as a freshman a year ago, hit

4-of-12 first-half attempts and scored 12 points to help UNC head to the locker room with a 38-37 lead.

He finished with 24 points on the night.

Wake Forest's Craig Dawson kept the Demon Deacons within striking distance by lighting up the Tar Heels for 15 points in the half.

The two teams shot out of the gates offensively and combined for 34 points in the first 8:23.

"I was wondering if anyone was going to stop anybody all night long," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said.

Eventually, that happened. Just in time for UNC to pull out their sixth consecutive road win in the ACC.

The Tar Heels matched their longest consecutive win streak since 1997-98 with 17.

In time for Haywood to wave at the Wake Forest student section with 4.1 seconds left and the words "Go home" flying out of his mouth.

After the game, Haywood said he thought Wake should have won the game because the Tar Heels hadn't played their best game.

UNC committed 20 turnovers and allowed Wake to grab 20 offensive rebounds.

The Demon Deacons outscored North Carolina 28-7 on second-chance points.

Odom said later that Haywood's comment only demeaned his team.

Said Odom, "Right now, I don't care what Brendan Haywood thinks, and I haven't since he made the decision to go to Carolina."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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