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Off the cuff: Throughout the first half, it looked like this one might go down to the wire.

There were six ties but only one lead change in the opening half.

After falling behind, Justin Jackson hit a pull-up jumpshot to tie it and then JP Tokoto reeled off four points - one on a steal and layup - to put Carolina up 26-22.

A Marcus Paige to Brice Johnson play at the buzzer gave the Tar Heels their biggest lead of the game to that point at just 40-34.

Within the first two minutes of the second half, the Heels had the advantage up to double figures, reaching as high as 18 on four different occasions.

Tar Heels 87, Wake Forest 71
UNC breaks game open to whip Wake

North Carolina broke open a close game early in the second half as the visiting Tar Heels took care of Wake Forest 87-71 to move to 15-4 overall and 5-1 in the ACC. (1/21)

Kennedy Meeks, saddled with three fouls in the first half, scored eight points over a three-minute stretch early in the second half to help the Tar Heels turn a six-point halftime lead into an 18-point advantage.

It never got closer than 12 the rest of the way. UNC's Marcus Paige drained a three with a hand in his face to put the Tar Heels back up by 18 with 7:26 to go.

With several players in foul trouble and with several players out with injuries - including Theo Pinson who left the game with a bruised foot - the Tar Heels played a lot of zone in the second half.

UNC coach Roy Williams said the Heels played more zone in this game than in all the other games this season put together.

"It was a weird night for us," Williams said. "We came in low on personnel and we lost Theo (during the game) and then late lost Nate (Britt)."

On top of that Meeks, Paige and JP Tokoto were all saddled with three fouls throughout the second half.

But, while there were six ties and a couple of lead changes in the first half, the outcome never really seemed in doubt once the lead got to double digits early in the second half.

Carolina's post players got inside for good looks and contributed to the Tar Heels shooting 60 percent from the field, the best shooting performance of the season.

"Our shot selection was much better in the second half than in the first half," Williams said.

Still, Brice Johnson already had 13 points in the first half, most on baby hooks and layups. He finished with a team-high 19 points.

Meeks, on the other hand, had 12 of his 16 points in the second half. Johnson and Meeks were each eight of 11 from the floor.

Freshman Justin Jackson played the entire 40 minutes and finished with 17 points. Paige, who had eight assists and three steals, added 12 points in 35 minutes played.

The high minutes played came because five of UNC's guards are injured. Joel Berry, Stilman White and Luke Davis didn't dress and then Pinson and Britt were hurt during the game. Britt, who was bloodied, should be back Saturday when the Tar Heels host Florida State.

"It was a good win. I feel good about it," Williams said. "Some tough kids played the entire second half for us."

Wake's Codi Miller-McIntyre had 20 points to lead the Deacons, who fall to 9-10 overall and 1-5 in the ACC.


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