Another defenseless night leads to another one-sided UNC loss

By R.L. Bynum

WINSTON-SALEM — In a season-long struggle to figure out how to play better defense, Carolina found no answers Saturday night.

Wake Forest (16–4, 6–3 ACC) took advantage of careless turnovers, ran in transition with ease and shot well as the Demon Deacons overwhelmed UNC 98–76 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, leading the fans to storm the court.

The painful defeats keep coming for Carolina (12–5, 4–3), which has lost four games by 17 points or more and dropped consecutive games by a combined 50 points.

It’s the first time UNC has lost consecutive games by at least 22 points since the 8–20 season in 2001–02. That was also in January, with the Tar Heels losing 84–62 to Wake Forest and 112–79 to Maryland.

Points came way too easily for the Deacons all night. 

Indiana State transfer Jake LaRavia (career-high 31 points), Oklahoma transfer Alondes Williams (23) and East Tennessee State transfer Daivien Williamson (19) feasted on UNC’s defense. The Deacs shot 54.2% from the floor, with 10 3-pointers.

“Specifically this past week, when you’re talking about it’s difficult at times to overcome, I think the difficulty at times to overcome is because you’re playing against better players,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “At the end of the day, Williamson, Williams and LaRavia were the best players on the floor. And it wasn’t even close. We didn’t have anybody that could guard Laravia. He controlled the entire game, he punched us in the mouth at the beginning of the game, and Alondes and Daivien, they could get into the paint at any time that they wanted to whether it was off of ball screens, one on one situations.”

Leaky Black started on Williams but shifted to LaRavia after his hot start. With little working, Coach Hubert Davis even tried a little zone, which just led to more 3-pointers.

The Tar Heels’ offense was stagnant most of the night, and the lack of ball movement showed with only nine assists on 27 field goals and 33.3% shooting. Brady Manek was one of the few offensive bright spots, scoring 22 points before fouling out with 5:26 left.

RJ Davis scored 18 and Armando Bacot put up another ninth consecutive double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

“We can shoot better than this,” Coach Davis said. “And we haven’t shot the basketball, but there’s there’s a couple things. One, over the last couple games, teams have been more physical and from a defensive standpoint, they’ve been more physical and geared toward making it more difficult for Armando to really dominate down low in the paint.

“They’re making it very difficult for him to get the ball where he can finish around the basket and around the paint,” Davis said. “And so, over the last couple of games, even though Armando has had double doubles, they haven’t been those dominant games that Armando has had pretty much throughout the year.”

Carolina lost its second consecutive road game heading into a stretch of three home games in five days, starting with Virginia Tech on Monday.

Given the busy schedule this week, Hubert Davis played nine players in the first 11 minutes. But no combination worked well and Carolina wouldn’t have kept the game as close as it did without its offensive rebounding.

“We really weren’t getting very much from our starters,” Coach Davis said. “You have to have depth and you need guys playing well. And I wanted to give everybody an opportunity because we needed guys to step up. We need them for the remainder of the year.”

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Manek single-handedly kept UNC from getting off to another rough start by scoring seven points and pulling down four rebounds in the first 4½ minutes. His teammates missed their first seven shots before an Bacot layup off of a Love assist with 14:41 left in the first half gave UNC an 11–9 edge.

LaRavia was the hot player early for the Deacs, scoring 11 points in the first 8½ minutes, giving them an 18–15 lead on a 3-pointer. After UNC took a two-point lead, Wake Forest went on a 20–5 run and led 38–28 lead on a Williams 3-pointer with 3:18 left.

The Deacs lead 46–36 at halftime, and it would have been worse without UNC rebounding 14 of its 29 misses for 14 second-chance points. Wake outscored Carolina 18–0 in fast-break points.

Wake Forest made its first six second-half points to expand the lead to 13 on a Williamson fast-break layup. The Deacs led 71–52 after Damari Monsanto scored nine consecutive points on a trio of 3-pointers, and the rout was on.

How do the Tar Heels snap the losing streak?

“Get back to preparation,” Coach Davis said. “Get back to practice and get ready to play a quality opponent in Virginia Tech on Monday. There is no other option. This past week wasn’t a good week for us. We can sit here and whine and complain and point fingers and make excuses or you can get back up and you can keep fighting or start fighting and get ready for this upcoming week. That’s just automatic for me. That’s my personality and that’s what this team is gonna do.”

It’s a quick turnaround and a busy week for the Tar Heels with home games at 8 p.m. Monday against Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. Wednesday against Boston College and 2 p.m. Saturday against N.C. State.

The Hokies (10–8, 2–5) lost on the road Saturday 68–63 to the Eagles (8–9, 3–4), who play at Wake Forest on Monday night. The Wolfpack (10–10, 3–6) beat Virginia 77–63 at home Saturday and visits Notre Dame on Wednesday.

UNC 100, N.C. State 80

UNC season statistics

DateScore, record/
day, time, TV
LocationOpponent
(current rank)
November (4–2)
583–55 exhibition winHomeElizabeth City State
983–67 win, 1–0HomeLoyola Maryland
1294–87 win, 2–0HomeBrown
1694–83 win, 3–0RoadCollege of Charleston
2093–84 loss, 3–1Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 7 Purdue
2189–72 loss, 3–2Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 22 Tennessee
2372–53 win, 4–2HomeUNC Asheville
December (5–1, 1-0 ACC)
172–51 win, 5–2HomeX — Michigan
579–62 win, 6–2, 1-0 ACCRoadGeorgia Tech
1180–63 win, 7–2HomeElon
1474–61 win, 8–2HomeFurman
1898–69 loss, 8–3Las VegasZ — No. 18 Kentucky
2170–50 win, 9–3HomeAppalachian State
January (3–3, 3–3 ACC)
291–65 win, 10–3, 2-0 ACCRoadBoston College
578–73 loss, 10–4, 2-1 ACCRoadNotre Dame
874–58 win, 11–4, 3–1 ACCHomeVirginia
1588–65 win, 12–4, 4–1 ACCHomeGeorgia Tech
1885–57 loss, 12–5, 4–2 ACCRoadMiami
2298–76 loss, 12–6, 4–3 ACCRoadWake Forest
24Monday, 8, ACCNHomeVirginia Tech
26Wednesday, 7, RSNHomeBoston College
29Saturday, 2, ACCNHomeN.C. State
February
1Tuesday, 8, ACC NetworkRoadLouisville
5Saturday, 6, ESPNHomeNo. 8 Duke
8Tuesday, 9, ESPN or ESPN2RoadClemson
12Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2HomeFlorida State
16Wednesday, 8, ACCNHomePittsburgh
19Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadVirginia Tech
21Monday, 7, ESPNHomeLouisville
26Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadN.C. State
28Monday, 7, ESPNHomeSyracuse
March
5Saturday, 6, ESPNRoadNo. 8 Duke
8–
12
ACC TournamentBrooklyn
RSN — regional sports networks; ACCN — ACC Network; X — ACC/Big Ten Challenge;
Y — Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off; Z — CBS Sports Classic

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

3 Comments

  1. Terry Samuel says:

    I listened to the game via radio with WF. This is not the Heels I remember from the Coach Dean or Coach Roy days. Especially, not being beat by 20+ points by anyone. I hope the players come together and mesh as a team anticipating how each other thinks on the court in every situation. There is no ‘I’ in the word TEAM.

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  2. HoppyHap says:

    I took a look down the bench at the coaches. The resume highlight is the played basketball at Carolina. They remind me of a bunch of old guys sitting around and telling stories of what has been. Not one of them belongs coaching at Carolina. Davis is out of his element.

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  3. Cindy Williams says:

    I disagree that Coach Davis is out of his element. We knew this was going to be a difficult year for many reasons, not the least being that he had never been a head coach before (JV doesn’t count) and the job of head coach is totally different from being an assistant coach. He also wanted to bring in assistant coaches with significant UNC family ties. I need to re-read their CV’s, but you MAY have a valid point in the sense of needing blood from other successful programs. But out of his element? Ask again in March 2023.

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