Chapel Hill, NC - Wake Forest (14-13, 4-10 ACC) has come full circle, and not in a good way.
The Demon Deacons 105-72 loss to North Carolina (20-7, 10-4 ACC) is Wake's seventh straight loss after its 4-3 start in conference play, which included a 73-67 win over the then No. 19 ranked Tar Heels Sunday, Jan. 5.
"We just had a 100 put to our heads," Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas said. "We have no pride. We're in the ACC. We don't have pride. Come on man."
Demon Deacon head coach Jeff Bzdelik said his team's defensive intensity was "back in Winston-Salem."
Wake, led by 19 points from Coron Williams, 15 points from Tyler Cavanaugh and 14 points from Thomas, shot an impressive 49.1-percent from the field (27-55) and 50-percent from three-point range (6-12); however, the Deacs allowed the Heels to shoot 57.4-percent from the field (35-61) and 73.3-percent from three-point range (11-15).
"It all started with the ball pressure," Bzdelik said. "We allowed them to be very, very comfortable, and that's all we discussed every timeout. Halftime, the whole discussion was about it all starts with ball pressure."
"If you're going to let their guards be very comfortable and let their perimeter players be comfortable they're able to run their offense unless the ball is under duress your defense falls apart from there. For whatever reason we were not into the basketball [game]. [We] allowed them to be very comfortable."
Cavanaugh scored with 11:47 left in the first half to trim North Carolina's lead down 16-13, but things went downhill from there for the Deacs. The Tar Heels outscored Wake 39-17 the rest of the half.
North Carolina, spurred by the outside shooting of Leslie McDonald (3-3 from three-point range in the first half), was more than comfortable by halftime, as it led 52-33 at the break.
"First half, I thought for a long stretch early we weren't really into it," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said. "We were just trying to outscore them. And we were willing to give up too early on the defensive end. They capitalized on that, because we thought we could outscore them."
"I thought we really beat them a little better defensively, but it was just one of those games where we shot the ball really well."
McDonald led six Tar Heel double-digit scorers with 19 points (5-6 from three-point range).
North Carolina made 24-29 free-throw attempts to Wake Forest's 12-22 effort from the charity stripe. The Heels also out-rebounded the Demon Deacons 35-24.
The biggest question is where was Codi Miller-McIntyre?
His stat-line reads a glaring no points, three rebounds and four assists to three turnovers in 29 minutes, while his UNC counterpart Marcus Paige scored 13 points, grabbed two rebounds, dished out four assists, made two steals and did not turn the ball over in 28 minutes.
In Miller-McIntyre's defense he is playing with a sprained ankle that he sustained a 79-70 home loss to Georgia Tech Saturday, Feb. 1; however, the sophomore guard has scored 15 points, nine points and 12 points in the three previous games before the loss to North Carolina.
"It's [my ankle] getting better," Miller-McIntyre said. "It's [team defensive effort] on me. It starts with the point guard. It starts with the guards. Early in the game I let McDonald get going."
"Our defense feeds off what the point guard does. Defensively I wasn't there. It's tough. It's at a point where we need to get over it, and if we don't we're going to keep feeling like this after every single game. We can't sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. I can't sit here and keep blaming an injury. I got to man up. I got to get over it. It's that simple. We all have to come out with more passion and more energy."
Thomas is right. This team has no pride.
Wake Forest looked lifeless at times. Whether it was their body language, constant defensive lapses, getting beat to loose balls and rebounds the Demon Deacons rarely had all five guys mentally engaged with what was happening on the court.
Wake Forest guard Coron Williams
Coron, you were able to give the team some sort of energy, but you all didn't get much from anyone else. Where was everybody today? "That's a good question. I don't know. We just didn't make it happen tonight. That's all it was."
"Defensively, that's where it all starts. There's going times where it's going to be hard to score, and tonight it was hard to score. We weren't getting stops, so the lead kept expanding for them."
You've beaten these guys before. Where was the confidence today? "I don't know. We got to steer this train in the right direction and right now it's going in the wrong direction. We got to find a way. We got to find something within us. I think it's internally. We can't rely on the coaches. It's us. I think we'll get it going soon."
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams
On the motivation after losing to Wake Forest earlier this year: "I told them, I think it would be easy for me if someone beat my rear end last time, I wouldn't have any problem if it was four games in eight days, I'd be ready to play their rear ends. And that was the other thing I said. They did, they whacked us the last time."
On differences in the team from the first time playing Wake Forest: "We're a lot better, but Wake Forest really played well. It wasn't just our poor play up there in Winston[-Salem], we beat them badly on the backboards that day, but that's only place we beat them."
"Every other stat you look at, they really hurt us. They shot 21 layups that time, 46 points inside the lane, 17 turnovers for us the last time, so we're a lot better, and we caught them on ad day where they didn't play well and our shots were going in."