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Off the cuff: Several times against Wake Forest, it looked like the Tar Heels were going to go ahead and win in convincing fashion. But Wake hit 11 three-pointers (compared to seven for Carolina) to stay in it.

When the Heels went up 62-53 on the steal and dunk by Kenny Williams, it should have been over. But Carolina's perimeter defense was non-existent for a little over a minute and that's all it took for the Deacs to tie the game.

A couple of missed free throws and a couple of turnovers and all of a sudden the Tar Heels are down four on their own court with two minutes to go.

A Theo Pinson offensive rebound and shuffle pass to Luke Maye to draw the Heels with a pair with two minutes to go may have been the biggest sequence of the game.

Berry's beautiful driving shot at the end won it but that Pinson play, along with his fantastic follow shot late in the first half, may have been the most consequential plays of the game.

Coach Roy Williams played 11 guys but only six saw more than eight minutes of play. Berry played 35 minutes but I think Williams would like to get his time down to 32 minutes. Seventh Woods has been out with an injury and he obviously doesn't have the confidence yet in freshman Jalek Felton, who played only five minutes and took/missed one shot.

Tar Heels 73, Wake Forest 69
UNC rallies behind Berry to beat Deacs

With the score tied 69-all and time running down, UNC turned to Joel Berry. The senior playmaker drove the left side of the lane, slide stepped the defenders and looped up a contested shot that dropped through with 10 seconds remaining to help North Carolina to a 73-69 conference-opening victory at home. (12/30)

After a Kenny Williams steal and dunk midway through the second half, the Tar Heels looked to be on their way to a comfortable win, up 62-53. But Wake Forest hit three triples to tie the score and put together a 16-3 run to go up 69-65 with 2:20 left.

A nifty shuffle pass from Theo Pinson to Luke Maye cut the deficit to two at 69-67 with two minutes left. Wake milked the clock and Bryant Crawford missed a three near the end of dthe shot clock. Subsequently, Pinson knotted the score at 69 on a pair of free throws after being fouled.

Wake's Doral Moore missed the front end of a one-and-one with 34 seconds left to set up Berry's heroics. After Wake's Keyshawn Woods missed a long, off-balanced three, Carolina's Williams was fouled. He hit both ends of a one-and-one with less than two seconds left to ice the game at 73-69.

"Happy to win. Not pleased at all. Not satisfied at all," said UNC coach Roy Williams. "Wake Forest was much more aggressive than we were."

Coach Williams said he told Wake's coach Danny Manning that the Tar Heels were lucky and not necessarily the best team out there.

Even though they had no fastbreak points in the first half, Carolina led 35-30 at the break in large measure due to a 20-6 advantage in the paint. The highlight of the first half came late when Pinson flew in for a falling-down, one-handed rebound and shot all in one motion that gave the Heels that five-point margin.

In the second half, the Tar Heels quickly opened it's largest lead of the game at 42-32 after Cam Johnson drained a three and Garrison Brooks followed with a pair of free throws.

Wake Forest narrowed the lead to five before Williams stole the ball twice - once leading to a pair of free throws and the other leading to that dunk which appeared to put Carolina back in control - until the Deacons went on the 16-3 run that set up the dramatic finish.

Despite Berry scoring 16 points, including the game winner, Williams said he has high standards for him and "didn't think he played worth a darn." Berry did have more turnovers (3) than assists (2) and he managed to hit only two of eight three pointers.

Similarly, Maye stuffed the box score with a team-leading 17 points and 15 rebounds but Coach Williams told him he "didn't play worth a darn." He was particularly upset with a pair of turnovers by Maye late in the game that could have been disastrous.

In addition to Berry and Maye's double-digit scoring performance, Williams tallied 13 despite missing five of six threes and Johnson finished with 11.

Carolina improves to 12-2 overall and 1-0 in the ACC and travels to Florida State Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Box Score

Joel Berry (UNC Sports Information Photo by Jeffrey A. Camarati)

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