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Monday December 5th

Preview: Here's what UNC will need to do against Wake Forest to rebound from Duke loss

UNC men's basketball head coach Roy Williams yells during the game against UVA in the Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. UNC fell 64-62 against UVA.
Buy Photos UNC men's basketball head coach Roy Williams yells during the game against UVA in the Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. UNC fell 64-62 against UVA.

Coming off of Saturday's overtime loss to the Blue Devils, the North Carolina men's basketball team will need to be efficient at the charity stripe, force Brandon Childress to share the ball and play lockdown defense on Olivier Sarr to snap its three-game losing streak.

Knock down free throws

The Tar Heels struggled mightily at the free throw line against Duke on Saturday, leaving 17 points at the line in a two-point loss.

Saturday was just the latest example of UNC's season-long struggle with foul shots; the team's free throw percentage has dropped to 64.8 percent.

Even when North Carolina has had successful trips to the line, the Tar Heels still have issues with maintaining consistency in their free throw shooting.

First-year Cole Anthony shot a perfect 14-14 from the charity stripe against Boston College in his return to action on Saturday, Feb. 1, before missing five of his eight attempts in the following game against the Seminoles. Anthony bounced back to shoot 90 percent from the line in Saturday night's game, proving how unpredictable even some of the best UNC players can be at the line.

The Tar Heels will need to sharpen their free throw accuracy against the Demon Deacons to prevent themselves from falling into another tight matchup.

Force the ball out of Brandon Childress' hands

Childress has the potential to come alive on offense any given night, so North Carolina will certainly look to make him give the ball up on Tuesday. The senior point guard has scored at least 17 points in 11 of Wake Forest's 23 games this season.

In last year's meeting between the two teams, a 95-57 victory for UNC, Childress had one of his worst games of the season, coughing up six turnovers and missing all 12 of his attempts from the field en route to zero points on the afternoon.

The odds of a repeat performance from the Demon Deacon leader are slim, meaning the Tar Heels will look to apply heavy defensive pressure on Childress to force the ball to his teammates.

If North Carolina can leave Childress with no other option than to distribute the ball, UNC will have a chance to make plenty of plays on the defensive side of the ball. Besides Childress, no Wake Forest players that have started in a game this season have more assists than turnovers on the year.

Don't let Olivier Sarr gain any momentum

Sarr served as a legitimate threat off the bench for Wake Forest for the majority of the season until he became a regular face in the starting rotation beginning with the game against Boston College on Sunday, Jan. 19. The junior was averaging 12.7 points per game before he became a consistent starter and reached double digits as a reserve in 11 of his 13 games off the bench this season.

Along with his scoring abilities, Sarr will be one of the most dominant post presences that North Carolina's Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot have faced all season.

The 7-foot, 255-pound center is averaging 9.4 rebounds per game, propelling him into the top-50 in the nation. Bacot, UNC's largest player receiving significant playing time, stands at just 6-foot-10, 232 pounds compared to Wake Forest's big man.

Brooks and Bacot will have to stand tall in the paint to boost North Carolina's chances of winning and to stop the junior from notching his ninth double-double of the season.


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