Previewing Wake Forest

Aminu

The Tar Heels travel to Winston-Salem on Saturday looking to break out of a skid that has seen them lose seven of their last eight outings and 10 of their last 12.

North Carolina (14-14, 3-10) vs. Wake Forest (18-7, 8-5)
Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Lawrence Joel Coliseum
2:00 p.m. CBS (Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner)

Quotables

"In this league, you can't come out and play as bad as we did and expect to win the game. One thing I've been proud of our team for this year is that when we're not making shots, we've played good ‘D' no matter what. You've got to hold a team at least at arm's length and we didn't do a good job of that." – Wake Forest point guard Ish Smith following Saturday's 68-54 loss at N.C. State

"Coach always talks about having a fear of losing. That's a good kind of fear. That's what we have right now. We slip up here and we can mess up a whole lot. These three games right here determine what we want to do in postseason." – WFU forward L.D. Williams

PREGAME NOTES

Since the Last Time We Met: Wake Forest enters Saturday's contest with an 18-7 (8-5 ACC) record. The Demon Deacons have won five of their eight league games since defeating North Carolina, 82-69, on Jan. 20. Dino Gaudio's squad has lost two straight road games, however, in falling to Virginia Tech (87-83) and N.C. State (68-54). Wake Forest is 6-0 in ACC home games this season.

Inside/Outside Combo: The question often arises as to what is more important in college basketball – a dominant post player or a scoring point guard? Gaudio has enjoyed having both on his roster during his three seasons running the show in Winston-Salem. Sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu serves as the frontcourt option, averaging a double-double of 16.8 points and an ACC-leading 11.0 rebounds per game this season. Senior point guard Ish Smith is directing traffic in the backcourt, scoring 13.2 points and dishing out 6.2 assists per contest. Aminu leads Wake in blocks (40) and ranks third on the team in steals (38), assists (36) and 3-pointers (15). Smith counters with a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in ACC play (2nd) while also leading the program with 1.8 steals per game.

Another Defensive Test: Wake Forest ranks eighth nationally in overall field goal percentage defense (37.8), and shares the No. 2 spot with Georgia Tech in ACC play with a 39.5 mark. The Demon Deacons are blocking 5.5 shots (3rd) and creating 6.7 steals (T-6th) in league action, but those strong defensive numbers are not adding up in the opponents' turnover column for some reason – Wake's 13.8 forced turnovers per game ranks seventh in the ACC.

Points on the Run: The Demon Deacons have replaced the Tar Heels this season as the ACC's top transition team. Wake Forest has outscored its opponents, 307-134, in transition points, delivering a seven-point advantage per outing.

Senior Stepping Up: L.D. Williams has developed a reputation for defensive tenacity and high-flying slam dunks, but he's never been called on to be a consistent offensive threat. However, that role appears to be changing in the final days of his Wake Forest career. The senior wing has boosted his offensive production over the past four games, averaging 13.3 points while knocking down 66.7 percent of his field goal attempts (22-of-33).

Random Fact of the Day: Wake Forest's lone home loss this season came at the hands of William & Mary (78-68) back on Nov. 28.

Last Meeting: The Demon Deacons defeated UNC, 82-69, on Jan. 20, 2010, at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Smith and C.J. Harris paced Wake Forest with 20 points each, while Will Graves led North Carolina with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Demon Deacons overcame a one-point second-half deficit by drilling seven of their eight 3-point field goal attempts after intermission.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series against Wake Forest, 151-65. The Demon Deacons have won eight of the last 13 meetings between these two programs. The Tar Heels lead the series, 54-30, on the road and own a 10-9 record at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Projected Starters:
10 Ishmael Smith (6-0, 175, Sr.) – 13.2 ppg, 6.2 apg
11 C.J. Harris (6-2, 175, Fr.) – 10.2 ppg
42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210, Sr.) – 9.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg
1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, 215, So.) – 16.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg
13 Chas McFarland (7-0, 245, Sr.) – 7.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg

Top Reserves:
20 Ari Stewart (6-7, 205, Fr.) – 7.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
55 Tony Woods (6-11, 245, So.) – 4.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
2 Gary Clark (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 3.5 ppg
44 David Weaver (6-11, 250, Sr.) – 2.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg

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