While Wake Forest has pulled it together after a rough patch, North Carolina will try to reverse a trend after a disappointing week.
The teams will meet Tuesday night in a rematch from last month, with each team in desperate need of success at Winston-Salem, N.C.
Visiting North Carolina (15-8, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped two games last week with a 65-64 home loss to Pitt and a 63-57 road defeat to Duke. The setbacks had North Carolina coach Hubert Davis at his wits’ end.
“There’s no other option,” Davis said. “I don’t know what else to tell the team. We’ve got to play Wake on Tuesday.”
Wake Forest (15-9, 7-6) snapped a four-game losing streak by winning 81-64 on Saturday at Notre Dame. The Demon Deacons won despite scoring four points through the opening 10 minutes.
“We went through a losing streak. We lost three games by two points,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “I’m very proud of our team for overcoming a really poor start and winning a basketball game.”
The Demon Deacons received a boost Saturday from redshirt junior Damari Monsanto’s career-high 28 points after he hit eight 3-point shots.
North Carolina might want to take note of Wake Forest’s resiliency.
“For us this year, consistently it has been the discipline, the details, the little things that have been up and down in late-game situations,” Davis said. “Once we get better and more consistent with that, I think it will be a happier locker room.”
The Tar Heels shot 34.3 percent from the field against Duke, their second-lowest mark of the season. Part of that came from Duke’s 11 blocked shots, the most rejections for North Carolina’s shooters in a game in more than eight years.
Davis has pointed out several times since Saturday night’s loss how the Tar Heels shot only three free throws. The offensive issues have come as North Carolina has held its past six opponents to less than 70 points.
“Let’s get back to work,” Davis said. “Let’s do it with energy and passion and enthusiasm.”
Tuesday’s game will involve two of the ACC’s leading scorers. Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby checks in with an average of 18 points per game, while North Carolina forward Armando Bacot is averaging 17.5 points and 11.3 rebounds.
The Tar Heels own an 88-79 home victory against Wake Forest on Jan. 4.
The Demon Deacons are 10-2 at home this season, but they’ve lost their past two home outings, to Virginia and North Carolina State.
–Field Level Media