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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels didn't really deserve to win the game at Wake Forest... but they could have.

You'd think that outrebounding an ACC foe by 19 would do the trick. And it would have if the Heels could have made a few shots. You aren't going to win many games hitting 39 percent.

A lot of those shots were relatively easy follow shots, tips and short jumpers. Several were open threes.

As Coach Williams said, the Tar Heels couldn't finish. But Wake could. They scored 19 points off Carolina's 17 turnovers.

"We just made effort plays," said Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik.

Ouch. They kinda says that the Tar Heels didn't make as much effort because the favored Heels certainly have the talent to beat the Deacs.

Even the UNC trapping defense was only successful a couple of times and the Tar Heels didn't convert on the opportunities.

"We knew they would trap us and we handled the trap really well," Bzdelik said.

I had thought the trap might be Carolina's calling card this year but it takes more effort, more aggression to work.

Wake Forest 73, Tar Heels 67
Unforced errors kill UNC in ACC opener

North Carolina turned the ball over 17 times leading to 19 Wake Forest points as the homestanding Deacons beat the Tar Heels 73-67 in the ACC season opener for both teams. (1/5)

UNC coach Roy Williams indicated that at least seven of those turnovers were unforced - dribbling the ball off a foot, passing the ball out of bounds with no defender between the UNC players, etc.

"Turning the ball over - unforced turnovers killed us," Williams said. "We kept hanging around because we did a good job rebounding but then we couldn't finish."

In fact, the Tar Heels, who outrebounded the Deacons by 19, shot only 39 percent and missed a number of short jumpshots, tips and layups.

Marcus Paige failed to reach double figures for the first time this season and went only three of 12 from the floor. Paige and the other best outside shooter Leslie McDonald went a combined two of 15 from beyond the three-point line.

The Tar Heels rushed out to a 19-12 lead to start the game but Wake Forest went on a 9-1 run to take a 21-20 lead midway through the half and ended the first half with a 34-32 lead over the Heels.

Early in the second half, Carolina tied it twice before Wake Forest went on a 15-2 run during which the Tar Heels made a host of errors. It went from 38-all to 53-40 over a five-minute period and the Tar Heels never caught up again.

It did get close on a couple of occasions. The Tar Heels went on a 10-3 run to cut it to 56-50. It appeared they had a chance to cut into the lead more when McDonald and Wake's Cavanaugh tied each other up and the possession arrow favored Carolina.

But the officials went to the monitor and determined that McDonald threw an elbow. Wake's Adala Moto left the bench area and approached the scrum. That should have been a technical. After the technical on McDonald, Wake hit a free throw and converted on its possession to get the lead back up to nine at 59-50 with five minutes left.

A more aggressive Tar Heel team made one last run. Down 10, the Heels went on a 7-0, which included a Paige three and a JP Tokoto dunk follow, to draw within one possession at 64-61 with 1:58 to go.

But a strange few seconds ended the Tar Heels' chances. With a chance to tie or draw within one, UNC's Nate Britt threw a low pass at James Michael McAdoo's ankles. Wake came away with the ball but Tokoto quickly stole it back but missed a short jumper that bounced out to Wake Forest's Madison Jones, who pushed it up to Travis McKie, who converted a layup and three-point play with a foul.

UNC never got closer again.

McAdoo led the Tar Heels with 13 points while Tokoto and Brice Johnson each had 12.

It was the third consecutive year that the Tar Heels have lost an ACC opener and it was the first time the Deacons have beaten the Tar Heels in Winston-Salem since 2009.

The Tar Heels, now 10-4 and 0-1 in the ACC, host Miami Wednesday night.


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