The North Carolina men’s basketball team (10-5, 2-2 ACC) defeated Wake Forest (10-5, 2-2 ACC), 88-79, in Wednesday night’s matchup in the Dean E. Smith Center.
The Tar Heels put up the first points of the game after senior forward Armando Bacot snagged a steal in the paint and laid in a basket off an assist from junior guard Caleb Love. The Demon Deacons got on the board quickly, though, with a bucket from behind the arc followed by a free throw. After an offensive rebound and follow-up by Bacot, the teams traded threes to tie the game at seven early on.
Just over five minutes into the half, graduate forward guard Leaky Black logged his second 3-pointer of the game, which he followed with a block at the other end of the court that junior guard Caleb Love was able to convert. Only two minutes later, Black sank another from deep, giving UNC a 15-12 lead. The Demon Deacons were keeping the gap tight, however, scoring consecutive fast break buckets to trail by a point.
After a defensive stop, junior guard RJ Davis nailed a three, but Wake Forest responded with a deep jumper. The Tar Heels cashed in on their next two possessions, bringing their lead to 26-18; however, an and-one and several free throws kept Wake Forest within striking range.
Black was attacking the basket, and it was paying off: an and-one and another contested bucket put UNC up six with five minutes remaining in the half. Both teams kept the pressure high, but a last minute 3-pointer gave Wake Forest a 38-37 halftime lead.
The Tar Heels were quick out of the gate to start the second half, with Davis sinking consecutive baskets and a layup and Love converting a steal on offense. Davis found the hoop for his fourth bucket just four minutes into the half. Regardless, the Demon Deacons were hot from downtown, hitting four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the half to keep a narrow lead over the Tar Heels.
Another three for Davis put UNC within one point of the lead, but Wake Forest continued to finish down low. First-year guard Seth Trimble scored a jumper in the paint to give UNC the lead, and topped it off with a block on the other end. After trading possessions, UNC went on a fiery run, starting with a steal by Davis which Trimble put in the hole on UNC’s end; Davis then grabbed another steal, which he lobbed to Bacot for an explosive dunk. Bacot and Davis then swapped roles, with Bacot logging the steal and Davis cashing in from three-point range. This 7-0 run put UNC up, 70-64.
The energy didn’t stop. Trimble scored off a put-back on a low offensive rebound, then Love swished a three after a steal from Black gave UNC possession. Just a minute later, Davis had a steal at the top of the key followed by an easy layup. UNC led 79-73 with five minutes to play.