On a day with the 1957 and 1982 national championship teams were celebrated, Carolina’s guest failed to show up.
“As you can imagine, there’s not a lot to say…,” Wake coach Skip Prosser said following the blowout. “Our misses became outlet passes (and) fueled their break….The resulting carnage is something you all witnessed.”
With the virtual living history of Carolina Basketball from Rosenbluth, Brennan and Quigg to Perkins, Worthy and Jordan to Guthridge and Smith, in attendance, the Tar Heels sputtered early and allowed Wake Forest to lead 23-22 at the 7:44 minute. It is not every day you have to perform in front of the game’s greatest.
“It was hard to keep my eyes off Jordan when I was sitting on the bench,” said Marcus Ginyard, “It is definitely something to put you in awe.”
Coach Roy Williams used the events of the day as a motivation to his 2007 team, and the Heels would quickly end any remote Wake Forest hope of an upset. Wayne Ellington’s three pointer gave Carolina the lead for good and over the next 7:30, the Heels would outscore the Deacons 26-11 to close out the first half.
“I think it’s a reflection of our defense,” Prosser said. “When they get going like that, it’s like they are running downhill.”
The Tar Heel starters scored all but eight of the 51 points, with Tyler Hansbrough’s 12 on perfect shooting from the field (3-3) and line (6-6) leading the way.
While the stat sheet won’t show his true worth, it was Ginyard’s play in the first half that that kick started the Heels. “He’s one of our better defensive players and he does a lot of hard work that doesn’t get recognized all the time,” Hansbrough said of his sophomore teammate. “He really gives us a lift when he comes into the game.”
Hansbrough’s words held true as just 11 seconds into his time on the court, Ginyard set the defensive tone for the day by blocking a dunk attempt of Wake’s Kyle Visser.
Visser, coming off a big game against the Heels in Winston-Salem, would be a non-factor for the day and would eventually foul out with nine minutes left in the game.
During halftime, the game became merely a sideshow as nearly all of the living members of the 1957 and 1982 Carolina teams took to the Smith Center court. Coach Williams spoke first and urged the sold out crowd to give those Tar Heels the recognition they deserved. He would not be disappointed as the Smith Center crowd raucously cheered as everyone involved with the two championship teams was recognized culminating with the quartet of Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Coach Dean Smith. (halftime ceremony video link)
With the euphoria of that moment still hovering among the Smith Center faithful, the Heels came out in the second half on fire with senior Reyshawn Terry the centerpiece of the performance. Terry scored 11 points in the first five minutes of the half and his free throws at the 9:09 mark ballooned the Carolina lead to 39, 91-52.
“He was big time today,” Coach Williams said of the senior.
Wes Miller’s three with 3:20 left brought the biscuit hungry students to life and the Heels would cruise to the final 104-67 margin.
Terry would finish with season high 23 points and eight rebounds as all but Surry Wood would score for the Heels on the day. Hansbrough (16), Brandan Wright (15 on 7-7 shooting from the floor) and Ellington (11) would finish in double figures and no Tar Heels saw more than 22 minutes of action.
“That’s just how it goes,” Terry said of his struggles at NC State and his play since. “Fortunately I was able to knock down some shots today and for the last couple of games and be real aggressive.”
So the Heels move to 22-3 overall and 8-2 in the ACC with Virginia Tech coming into town Tuesday night. It was the Hokies that knocked the Heels back to reality last month with the 94-88 win in Blacksburg. The Tar Heel players haven’t forgotten that night.
“We are definitely going to look at that as revenge,” Terry said of Virginia Tech’s trip to the Smith Center, “We are going to be fired up and looking forward to it.”