by Aaron Beard, The Associated Press
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Marcus Paige just never found his shot in No. 19 North Carolina's Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
The sophomore managed just eight points on 3-for-12 shooting in the Tar Heels' 73-67 loss at Wake Forest on Sunday night, marking the first time he had failed to reach double figures in scoring this season.
"He didn't shoot it well tonight needless to say," coach Roy Williams said, "... but we've got to give him some more help, too."
Paige was averaging 18.4 points and shooting nearly 45 percent from the floor, including 40 percent from 3-point range. He had scored at least 11 points in every game while shouldering the perimeter scoring load with the loss of P.J. Hairston to NCAA violations.
He went 1-for-8 from 3-point range. And his missed free throw in the first half stopped his run of consecutive makes at 31, short of the school record of 41 set by Jeff Lebo during the 1980s.
"I got some really clean looks," Paige said. "I took a couple of contested shots, but I got plenty of clean looks that didn't go in. Missed a free throw, it was one of those nights for me."
For Wake Forest, Travis McKie scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half to lead the upset.
Codi Miller-McIntyre added 12 points for the Demon Deacons (11-3, 1-0), who took control with a 15-2 run midway through the second half to build a double-digit lead.
The Tar Heels (10-4, 0-1) made a late push to cut the deficit to 64-61 with about 2 minutes left, but got no closer as the Demon Deacons held on for their third win against a ranked opponent under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.
The win also snapped a four-game losing streak in the long-running series, giving Wake Forest its first win against North Carolina since 2010.
Paige and Leslie McDonald, UNC's only other reliable outside shooter, combined to miss 13 of 15 shots from behind the arc.
This one ended up fitting in with the Tar Heels' wildly unpredictable ways this season. They have beaten highly ranked Michigan State, Kentucky and reigning national champion Louisville, but have also lost to Belmont, UAB and Texas. Now they have a fourth loss against an unranked opponent.
As for Wake Forest, it marked the second straight season Bzdelik's Demon Deacons have beaten a ranked league opponent at home. Last season, it was North Carolina State and eventual ACC champion Miami.
The Demon Deacons took control with a 15-2 run, getting baskets from six players—including two off backdoor cuts—to break a 38-all tie and take a 53-40 lead on Madison Jones' shot that bounced off the back of the rim and dropped through the net at the 10:08 mark.
While the Demon Deacons didn't keep the pedal to the floor to stay in control, the Tar Heels just weren't able to string together enough defensive stops or baskets to rally, either.
They got as close as three points and had a chance to get closer, but Tokoto missed a short shot after a backcourt steal that could have cut the deficit to one with about a minute left.
Jones grabbed the rebound and the Demon Deacons pushed it ahead to McKie, who hit a layup while drawing a foul for a three-point play that made it 67-61 with 1:03 left. UNC never got the margin back to a single-possession game again, shooting just 39 percent in a loss that had Wake Forest students and fans running to midcourt to celebrate at the horn.