CHAPEL HILL, N.C.- Six North Carolina players, including all five starters, scored in double figures as the Tar Heels laid waste Saturday to a Wake Forest team devoid of offense, defense and overall effort. The 105-72 loss was just the latest in a string of crushing defeats occurring since the Deacs began the season 14-6, including an ACC season-opening 73-67 victory over these same Tar Heels.
"I told them, I think it would be easy for me if someone beat my rear end last time," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said. "I wouldn't have a problem if it was four games in eight days or eight games in four days, I'd be ready to play their rear ends. And that was the other thing I said- they whacked us the last time."
Coron William's Wake Forest career-high 19 points, along with 15 from Tyler Cavanaugh, led Wake Forest (14-13, 4-10 ACC). Devin Thomas added 14 for the Deacs, despite drawing his fourth foul with just over 16 minutes remaining in the second half. Codi Miller-McIntyre, still battling an ankle injury, finished with 0 points in 29 minutes of play.
"Obviously, he's been really battling that ankle," head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "He's never really been 100 percent since Georgia Tech. I think if you look at the way he's played since then, it just hasn't been right."
Leslie McDonald led the way for the Tar Heels (20-7, 10-4 ACC) with 19 points, and Kennedy Meeks poured in 15 of his own as he won the battle of the paint with the Deacon post players. North Carolina scored 22 points off 14 Wake Forest turnovers, and out-rebounded the Deacs 35-24. In a reversal of fortune, the Heels also were 24-29 (83 percent) from the free throw line, not 48 hours since a 20-31 performance from the stripe against Duke.
The loss is the seventh in a row for the reeling Deacs, who looked like a weary team playing out the string. Alas, there are four games remaining in the regular season before all attention shifts to the Greensboro Coliseum and the ACC Tournament. The Deacons' next opportunity to stop the slide will come Tuesday night against the Clemson Tigers in Winston-Salem (7:00 p.m.).
Asked where the defensive intensity was for Saturday's blowout loss, Bzdelik simply replied: "Back in Winston-Salem."
He was more candid later, lamenting the lack of ball pressure on the Tar Heel guards:
"We allowed them to be very, very comfortable and it's all we discussed every timeout. If you're going to let their guards be very comfortable, and the perimeter players be very comfortable, they are able to run their offense. Unless the ball is under duress, the defense just falls apart from there."
Regardless of the outcome Tuesday, it is almost certain that Bzdelik's tenure is coming to a close at Wake Forest. The Deacs must win two of their final four contests to even equal last season's conference win total of six games, and will not sniff a national postseason tournament for the fourth time in as many years. The more likely scenario is that AD Ron Wellman will have to conduct his second major coaching search in the last six months, signaling a sea change in what has been a tumultuous four years in Wake Forest athletics.