Winston-Salem, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - In-state rivals collide in an ACC affair on Wednesday night, as the 15th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at LJVM Coliseum.
Roy Williams' squad is playing some of its best basketball of the season. The team has won three straight games and eight of its last nine games, with a one-point loss to Louisville standing as the only loss over that span of games. The Tar Heels enter off a 68-53 win over Virginia Tech, moving the team to 14-4 overall and 4-1 in ACC play.
Danny Manning's first season in Winston-Salem has certainly had its ups and downs, as evidenced by the team's 9-9 overall record. Wake Forest had an opportunity at posting its second conference win of the season last week, but faltered in overtime at Syracuse, 86-83. The loss dropped the team to just 1-4 in league play. UNC represents Wake's third ranked opponent in the last five games.
North Carolina holds a 156-66 advantage in the all-time series. The Tar Heels have won nine of the last 12 meetings, including 4-of-6 on the road.
The Tar Heels established themselves down low against Virginia Tech, outrebounding the visiting Hokies 49-22, while limiting them to a mere .358 shooting effort. Justin Jackson led UNC in the scoring column with 16 points. Brice Johnson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while J.P. Tokoto finished with 10 points. Marcus Paige and Kennedy Meeks' the team's top two performers, were relatively quiet though, posting just eight points apiece.
One of the top offensive squads in the ACC, North Carolina enters this game averaging 79.0 ppg, doing so on a solid .456 shooting. The team relies on strong rebounding efforts as well and boasts of a +10.8 rebounding margin to date. Paige is shooting just .376 from the floor, but still leads the team in scoring at 13.6 ppg, thanks in large part to his team-high 44 3-pointers. Meeks has been a force down low as one of the conference' top frontcourt players. The 6-foot-9 sophomore is shooting .586 from the field, while averaging 12.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Meeks is tied for the conference lead with seven double-doubles this season. Johnson (11.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is a viable third option.
Wake Forest will be hard-pressed to match North Carolina at the offensive end of the floor. The Demon Deacons are averaging a modest 71.3 ppg, but give up almost as much (69.1 ppg). However, like UNC, Wake likes to get physical on the glass, outrebounding foes by 7.8 caroms per contest. The gameplan is funneled through guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, who does a little bit of everything, averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Devin Thomas is the perfect complement with his strong interior game, averaging 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game (second in the ACC).
The Demon Deacons held a nine-point lead in the second half, but actually had to come from behind late to force overtime, before faltering in the extra session. The loss spoiled a terrific performance by Konstantinos Mitoglou, who went 10-of-13 from the floor, pouring in a career-high 26 points. Miller- McIntyre was 9-of-17 from the field and added 24 points, while Thomas posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.