ACC Basketball: Wake Forest 92, North Carolina 89: Teague torches Tar Heels
By Bret Strelow
WINSTON-SALEM ó Wake Forest players watched film of North Carolina’s loss to Boston College, but a game from last April provided the Demon Deacons with an even better blueprint.
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 34 points and center Chas McFarland added 20 as fourth-ranked Wake won 92-89 against third-ranked UNC in front of a record 14,714 fans at Joel Coliseum on Sunday night.
The Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2 ACC) lost their No. 1 ranking after falling for the first time a week earlier. Rather than focusing on that result, the Deacs spent Sunday afternoon viewing footage of Kansas’ victory against UNC at the 2008 Final Four.
In that contest, North Carolina fell behind 40-12 against the eventual national champion.
“I’d just say we were in attack mode,” Teague said. “A lot of times we’re reserved, and with Carolina guys really go out there like that because the powder blue. Guys get scared or whatever.
“We said we have to attack them first. That’s the only way you can beat Carolina. If you don’t attack them, they’ll bury you.”
Wake, which led for the final 14 minutes of a game that featured 55 fouls and 77 free throws, kept pace with Pittsburgh and Clemson by maintaining its claim as one of only three unbeaten teams left in the nation.
Teague missed a second free-throw attempt with 3.3 seconds left, and UNC’s Will Graves didn’t come close on a three-quarter court heave as the buzzer sounded. Fans spilled onto the floor to celebrate a victory that has the Deacs (14-0, 1-0) off to their best start in 28 years.
Danny Green scored 22 points to lead the Tar Heels, who had their 15-game road winning streak snapped. They have dropped their first two league contests for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
That team started 0-3 in ACC play, tied for second place with an 11-5 mark and reached the Final Four.
“We’re not going to sit here and say the whole season’s dead,” said UNC senior Tyler Hansbrough, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds but shot only 3-for-12 from the field. “It’s early. We have a lot of games to be played, We’re going to look forward to practicing, improving and being the team we know we can be.”
McFarland neutralized Hansbrough inside, and Wake limited the Tar Heels to nine assists while forcing 18 turnovers.
UNC shot 28.2 percent in the second half, and it was 5-for-32 before Wayne Ellington (17 points) cut into an 82-74 deficit by making a 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams praised counterpart Dino Gaudio, who took over Wake’s program following the unexpected passing of Skip Prosser in the summer of 2007.
“I loved Skip Prosser,” Williams said. “He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever been around. This is Dino’s club right now, and he needs to be congratulated for the way he handled one of the most tragic situations I’ve ever seen in my life.
“He also needs to be congratulated because he’s coached his rear end off the last couple years. I never felt like we were going to make a shot.”
Ellington drilled another 3-pointer with 2:23 left to pull the Tar Heels within 84-80, and Hansbrough missed a 3-point try from the top of the key on UNC’s next possession. The ball bounced out to the 7-foot McFarland near midcourt, and he dribbled in for a breakaway layup.
Teague made five free throws in the final 1:06 and finished 13-for-15 at the line.
“He was our lion,” Gaudio said. “He was not going to let us lose.”
McFarland scored Wake’s first basket of the second half, and Teague accounted for his team’s next eight points.
The Tar Heels used several different defenders against Teague, who went 9-for-17 from the field and put forth a performance Williams deemed as the best he’s seen in a long time against one of his teams.
“Every shot didn’t go in,” Teague said. “If every shot would have went in, I would have been a lot happier. We just made big plays down the stretch.”