North Carolina-Wake Forest Preview

North Carolina’s already potent offense has the potential to be

even more lethal if it can build on an impressive showing from

3-point range.

This could spell trouble for Wake Forest, which is likely going

to have enough issues keeping pace with Roy Williams’ team.

The fifth-ranked Tar Heels look to win their fourth in a row

Tuesday night when they visit the scuffling Demon Deacons.

North Carolina (18-3, 5-1 ACC) leads the country in scoring at

84.9 points per game despite struggling from the perimeter. The Tar

Heels shot an ACC-worst 24.7 percent from 3-point range in their

first five league games before hitting 10 of 16 from behind the arc

in Sunday’s 93-81 victory over Georgia Tech.

North Carolina, which has won 12 of 13 since a Dec. 3 loss to

top-ranked Kentucky, had not made more than five 3s in a conference

game, but Sunday’s solid shooting display came as no surprise to

Williams.

“We’re good shooters. I mean, we really are,” he said. “We make

a bunch of them in practice all the time. I’ve said the whole time

I thought that. … I believe I said ‘when’ we started making

(shots), I don’t believe I said ‘if.”’

Harrison Barnes had a game-high 23 points and made all three of

his 3-point tries, while Reggie Bullock went 3 for 6 in his second

straight start for the injured Dexter Strickland.

Any consistency from long range could lead to even more good

looks for the Tar Heels’ talented frontcourt.

Tyler Zeller is seventh in the ACC in scoring at 14.8 points per

game, just ahead of John Henson’s average of 14.2, and those two

are each among the conference’s top four in rebounding (a combined

19.2 per contest).

Barnes, meanwhile, is second in the league in scoring (17.5 ppg)

and has averaged 21.7 points while shooting 56.1 percent since the

embarrassing Jan. 14 loss at Florida State.

Those three carried North Carolina in last season’s 78-64

victory over Wake Forest, the Heels’ sixth in the last eight

meetings. Zeller had 18 points and Barnes 17, while Henson had 14

points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.

While North Carolina’s offense is clicking, the same cannot be

said of Wake Forest’s. The Demon Deacons (11-10, 2-5) are averaging

59.7 points on 39.5 percent shooting from the field – 27.3 percent

from 3-point range – in conference play.

Wake isn’t receiving much production from anyone other than C.J.

Harris, third in the ACC in scoring at 17.3 points per game, and

Travis McKie, fifth at 16.3. In Saturday’s 71-60 loss at Clemson,

Harris and McKie combined for 32 points on 11 of 24 shooting while

their teammates totaled 28 while missing 19 of 30 shots.

The Demon Deacons were again careless with the ball, turning it

over 15 times to go with 13 assists – the sixth time in seven ACC

games they’ve had more turnovers than assists.

“We don’t screen well to get people open,” coach Jeff Bzdelik

said. “We have to take advantage of the opportunities that we get.

We can’t turn the ball over as much as we did. We have to play

better.”

That seems like a tall order against North Carolina, which has

scored at least 73 points in each of its last 12 victories.

Wake, outscored by a total of 41 points in losing its first two

games against ranked foes, has reached the 73-point mark just once

in its last nine contests.