Tar Heels basketball: UNC remains undefeated in ACC with win over Wake Forest


The North Carolina Tar Heels are starting to hit their stride.

With Wednesday’s win over Wake Forest, the Tar Heels (17-2) are now 6-0 in ACC play which extends their best start under head coach Roy Williams. They are also currently riding a 10 game win streak as they head into the heart of the conference schedule.

Wednesday’s game was never really in question and the domination came even with a poor performance from arguably their best player.

For the third-straight game, senior point guard Marcus Paige struggled from the field scoring just two points in the win. Paige started 0-for-7 and scored his only bucket with 5:20 to go.

Luckily for Paige and the Tar Heels, his teammates were there to pick him up.

Senior forward Brice Johnson got back on track after he struggled against North Carolina State. Johnson poured in 27 points to lead all scorers and finished with 11 rebounds. It was Johnson’s 10th double-double as he’s making a strong case for the ACC Player of the Year award.

The Tar Heels shot over 45 percent from the field in the first half and reeled off 12 straight points late to grab a 46-30 lead into the break. The second half was all Tar Heels as well as they never let the lead get under double digits as they rolled to a 83-68 win.

Up next for the Tar Heels is a trip to Virginia Tech to take on the surprising Hokies who are 4-2 in ACC play.

Three things we noted

UNC continues to struggle on the defensive boards

While the Tar Heels out-rebounded the Demon Deacons on Wednesday, they struggled on the defensive boards for most of the first half. It’s a problem that continues to plague the Tar Heels when on defense, allowing other teams second-chance opportunities.

The Demon Deacons pulled down 16 offensive rebounds in total on Wednesday night and we are sure it’s something Roy will address in practice.

What’s wrong with Marcus Paige?

It’s hard to explain Paige’s struggles the last three games, but if anyone can turn it around it’s him. Paige was just 1-for-8 from the field including 0-for-5 from three-point range.

He’s made just one of his last 17 three-point attempts and something looks off with him. We don’t want to speculate too much that it could be an injury, but if he continues to struggle down the stretch, it could hurt the Tar Heels.

Roy offered some help to cure Paige:

UNC’s depth shows

The Tar Heels entered the game missing some depth down low as center Joel James was ruled out on Tuesday. Without James, the Tar Heels were left with Brice Johnson, Isaiah Hicks, Luke Maye and Kennedy Meeks. It worked out well as they managed to stay out of foul trouble and give Williams some quality minutes.

Hicks once again showed his worth to the team, scoring 9 points in 19 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds as well.

Williams went to his bench in the second half to show the depth as freshmen Kenny Williams and Luke Maye combined for 22 minutes.

One thing the Tar Heels can rely on down the stretch is players coming in fresh off the bench if they need to give the starters a break.