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January 31, 2012

Heels win: that's about it

"Back in the dressing room
The other side is weeping
And we're winning, winning ugly
And we're winning, winning ugly"
- Winning Ugly, the Rolling Stones


Sixth-ranked Carolina won on Tuesday night at Wake Forest.

The Tar Heels had little to boast about otherwise after a 68-53 victory. There was no shot too close to the bucket to miss. Carolina made just one basket during the first nine minutes of the second half.

UNC shot 31 percent from the floor, 21 percent from 3-point range for the game.

"It was an ugly game," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Sometimes you have to win ugly if you want to have a great year."

Carolina's continued to play strong defense, not letting its struggles on offense affect it. Wake Forest shot a meager 29.6 percent from the floor (16-54) and 11.1 percent from 3-point range (2-18).

The Tar Heels put themselves in position to take the shots they wanted; they just could not make them. The pattern formed at the outset of the game and continued throughout the night.

No matter how close the Tar Heels got to the basket, UNC proved capable of missing. James Michael McAdoo finished a long stretch of futility at one point of the second half by missing a dunk.

Carolina's inability to finish spread across the lineup, too. There was not just a single offender or two. The Tar Heels started the second half by going 1-of-13 from the floor.

"I told my team that I'm tired of saying we're good shooters," Williams said. "Start making the dadgum things in the games."

Tyler Zeller and John Henson did have statistically productive nights, even though neither shot his usual high percentage from the floor.

Zeller set a new career high in rebounding with 18, one game after achieving his previous career high with 17. He scored 18 points and blocked three shots to go with those rebounds.

Henson scored 14 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked four shots and made two steals.

Rebounding made the difference in the game as UNC grabbed 22 offensive rebounds and 55 overall compared to Wake's 40.

"I thought our work on the backboards in the first half was key," Williams said. "We had a 12-point lead at the half, and we had 12 points off offensive rebounds.

"In the second half, we were just a little more fortunate than they were. That's what it boils down to."

The Tar Heels (19-3, 6-1 in the ACC) will travel to College Park, Md., to play Maryland on Saturday at 4 p.m. Carolina will almost certainly have to play much better if it hopes to have any chance of beating the Terrapins.

One redeeming factor in Tuesday's game was the number shots Carolina blocked. The Tar Heels blocked 12 Demon Deacons' shots. This helped UNC to alter various other attempts.

"Their length really had an impact on the game around the rim for us," said WFU coach Jeff Bzdelik, whose team dropped to 11-11 overall and 2-6. "We had some opportunities around the rim that we couldn't finish because of their length.

"Couple that with the fact that we had some open 3s that we just couldn't make, and that kind of made it difficult for us to score."


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