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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels basketball squad is only one loss away from equalling their total number of losses for all of last season. Everyone seems to agree that this is a better team but the record may not show it. The Heels need to run the table to better last year's record but a March run where they win the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament would make people forget.

I've always been big on winning each game, winning the ACC regular season and then worrying about March but it seems that everything points to March these games - not so much the ACC title but the NCAA title. Certainly Carolina has a good chance at the title but first things first.

Marcus Ginyard could undoubtedly get an extra year of eligibility because of his injury but does the senior want to come back for another year. One would think this team has a much better chance of winning titles than next year's team. Still, it would be nice to have Ginyard for an entire final season.

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Deacons 92, Heels 89
UNC McFaTeagued by Wake Forest

As Waylon Jennings might sing, "This is gettin' funny but there ain't nobody laughin'." Well, maybe the Wake Forest fans are... and the Duke fans... and the N.C. State fans... etc., etc., etc. North Carolina lost its second conference game to start the ACC schedule as No. 4 Wake Forest defeated the No. 3 Tar Heels 92-89 behind Chas McFarland and Jeff Teague. (1/11)

McFarland outplayed Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough down low, scoring a season-high 20 points and Teague outplayed UNC's Ty Lawson everywhere, scoring a career-high 34.

Hansbrough managed to score 17 points but he was 3 of 12 from the floor while Lawson scored just nine and turned the ball over four times. The Tar Heels turned the ball over 18 times and shot only 35 percent, including going just six of 23 from three-point range.

Still, the Tar Heels, who trailed by as many as nine points, led 57-54 in the second half and had a chance right up until the end.

Tied at 44 at the half, the Heels got its biggest lead of the game at 57-54 when Will Graves went coast-to-coast for a bucket and was fouled. The free throw was good and the play looked especially big as highly touted Wake Forest player James Johnson picked up his fourth foul on the play with more than 15 minutes to play.

But Teague threw a nifty pass to an open Al Aminu down low for two and then hit a pair of free throws to give Wake the lead at 58-57. Carolina never got the lead back. For most of the remainder of the game, the Deacons kept the lead at about five or six points and it would have been worse had Danny Green, who tallied 22 points, not kept the Heels in the game as he generated the offense.

Teague dished to McFarland for two to give Wake an 81-73 advantage with 4:30 to play. Wayne Ellington, who scored 17, finally got hot and put in a pair of threes to cut the lead to 84-80 with 2:20 to go. But, on the Heels' next possession, Hansbrough badly missed an ill-advised three-point shot that wreaked of desperation. McFarland scooped up the long rebound and went in for a layup to put the Deacs up 86-80.

Foul shots by Ellington and Lawson pulled Carolina to 89-86 and a Graves' three with 4.7 seconds left dwindled the lead to 91-89. But a Teague free throw went down and a long jumper at the buzzer by Graves did not.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he liked his team's comeback but that it was too big a hill to climb. Overall, he said turnovers and bad decisions sank the Heels, along with a lack of sinking baskets. Williams said the shot selection wasn't very good and when the Heels did get quality shots, they missed them.

UNC's Deon Thompson continues to struggle as he missed 10 of his 13 shots, including a dunk. Marcus Ginyard, still not recovered from a preseason injury, did not suit up for the game and his defense was sorely missed against Teague, who hit three of four three-point shots and controlled the tempo of the game.

The Tar Heels, 14-2, have now lost the first two games of the ACC schedule for the first time in 11 years. Just a few days ago, the basketball world was discussing whether the Heels could go undefeated. Now, they just need to win a game - notably at Virginia Thursday - to stay in the hunt for the ACC regular season race.

Wake Forest, 14-0, now have to be considered the favorite to win the league title, along with Duke.


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