Game Review: UNC-Wake Forest



How it went down: In their first road game in 12 days, the Tar Heels traveled just up the road to face the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.  The Heels looked good early on the defensive end forcing Wake deep into the shot clock.  UNC kept Wake Forest not just from scoring, but from hitting the rim for the first few minutes.  A couple air balls and shots only grazing backboard contributed to an ugly start by the Deacons.  At about the 10 minute mark with the score 14-10 I was amazed.  UNC should have been up at least 26-10.  Missed layups and free throws continue to haunt this team.  Carolina regained control just before the half to lead it 36-24, still could have been 50-24 easy.

Kendall Marshall is starting to show he can hit a wide open shot for the first time in his college career.  Marshall knocked down the Heels first trey when he was left alone like he was shooting a technical or something.  If Marshall can get defenders to respect his shot, the sky’s the limit for Marshall and the Tar Heel offense.  Harrison Barnes was wincing prior to the start of the second half and was late joining the team at warmups.  He shook it off and started the second half, good thing, I can’t take anymore injuries.

The story of this game, Carolina doing everything but making layups.  That and a complete reversal from the Georgia Tech game in terms of three point shooting.  UNC couldn’t buy a three in the second half as wide open looks for Barnes, Bullock and PJ Hairston looked ugly.  The theme kept tight until Roy Williams called a timeout and turned up the intensity, sparking a Tar Heel run.  Up 15 at the seven minute mark, the Heels didn’t look back.

Impressions: The Tar Heels defense seems to have a charge of energy.  I don’t know if it’s Reggie Bullock who has been the teams defensive player of the game his last two starts.  Or if it’s the FSU loss that kick started this team defensively, but they look good.  I can’t imagine how many assists Kendall Marshall would have if these guys finished plays with better consistency.  Then the game changed with Wake making a run directly tied to UNC laziness on the defensive end.  Bullock put the clamps on CJ Harris, the Heels are starting to show they can consistently shut down the opposing teams top win.  UNC got any shot they wanted tonight, they controlled the tempo throughout, everything they wanted.  Except they couldn’t make point blank shots.  The big men especially missed a ton of layups and close shots they need to make consistently.  Freshman James Michael McAdoo looks lost on both ends of the floor.  Without the ball he looks tentative like he doesn’t know where to go.  He’s not finishing plays well and looked discouraged tonight.  I said recently I believe he’s going to bust out soon and I still do.  Still, he needs some 1 on 1 coaching.

Lasting Impact: Reggie Bullock’s defense is stellar.  Winning the defensive player of the game award for the last two games, he looks the part in Dexter Stricklands former role.  Add in the offense that Reggie brings and it looks like he’s actually upgraded the team in the starting lineup.  The energy and professional approach of this team has taken a huge step forward.  If you have to get blown out by 33, at least we learned something from it in the process.  North Carolina shot the ball terribly tonight, the defense still kept the game at a safe enough distance for most of the night.

Player Of The Game: Tyler Zeller, although he missed a bunch of point blank shots like the rest of the team.  He was a monster on the boards and led the team in scoring.  Zeller’s defense has really stepped it up in ACC play and he continued that tonight with three blocked shots.  Zeller was a real presence inside on both ends of the floor and is looking like the player who dominated the ACC and NCAA tournaments last season.

Play of The GameKendall Marshall took a steal coast to coast, and went around his back, finishing with a pretty left handed layup.

With the win Carolina becomes the first ACC team to achieve 600 conference wins.  Up next Carolina travels to MD Saturday at 4pm on ESPN.  Then it’s Duke on February 8th.  Five of the next eight games are on the road for UNC.  In other words, the team is about to embark on it’s toughest journey of the season.  It’s about to get interesting!

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