The North Carolina men's basketball team suffered all kinds of trouble in the first half of its game against Wake Forest. The No. 19 Demon Deacons defeated the Tar Heels 90-66 on Wednesday, completing the season sweep for the first time since 1969-70.
UNC's turnover problems were there, as usual. The Tar Heels (6-14, 2-8 in the ACC) entered the game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum with the ACC's worst turnover margin at minus 3.68. In the first half, North Carolina coughed up the ball 13 times, and six of the turnovers belonged to UNC starting point guard Adam Boone. Four were charged to senior forward Jason Capel.
"It's hard to say," said Boone of UNC's turnover troubles. He finished with seven overall. "It's different with every game. Different types of turnovers in different types of games."
The struggling offense was there. UNC went 7 minutes, 20 seconds without scoring a field goal before halftime while Wake (17-6, 7-3) enjoyed a 11-2 run.
And a really bad defense also showed up. Wake shot an astonishing 76.9 percent from the floor in the first half against the Tar Heels. Josh Howard shot 6 of 7, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc en route to a 16-point first half.
"Our defense was nonexistent in the first half," said UNC coach Matt Doherty. "It was terrible. The only saving grace is that the guys didn't fold in the second half."
Even if they didn't fold, their troubles didn't end at the half. It took the Tar Heels 2:10 to score their first basket -- Wake had already added six points to its 54-31 halftime lead.
With Wake Forest fans chiming in "Show no mercy" at various points, the Deacons continued beating up on the hapless Tar Heels, who tied the school record for the most ACC losses in a year (1963-64). Wake went on a 11-3 run that put the Tar Heels down by 30.
Although North Carolina closed the gap by 10 on free throws, a Kris Lang basket and a Jackie Manuel 3-pointer, the same troubles continued to plague the team. Capel got a shot blocked in the paint after a Wake turnover. Brian Morrison lost control while dribbling with 2:30 left in the game.
Finally, when Wake coach Skip Prosser put his reserves in with a minute left, Doherty followed his lead, letting Phillip McLamb, Damien Price and Joe Everett into the game. The Tar Heels missed their worst loss to Wake in the program's history by three points.
"We have a choice," said Doherty of the rest of the season. "We can work hard, or we can just go through the motions. If we don't work hard, we're going to be embarrassed in front of our home crowd. That's a big thing to me -- to go out and fight and work hard. And I don't feel like we did that tonight, especially in the first half."
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