By Adam Lucas
1. Huge free throws by Isaiah Hicks with 31.6 seconds left and Kenny Williams with 19.5 seconds remaining. The senior knocked in the front end of a one-and-one in a three-point game, then followed by hitting the second. Then Williams also converted both ends of a one-and-one that stretched the lead to 91-84. That essentially sealed the game for the Tar Heels in a big road win. As often happens in a win like this, which finished 93-87, you could cite multiple players with important plays late: Justin Jackson made a three-pointer with a minute left, Kennedy Meeks was all over the court, and three different players (including Jackson) made those late free throws. All five starters finished in double figures.
2. Sometimes it doesn't take complicated coaching advice. When he watched his Tar Heels pick up the team's tenth foul with 8:35 left, Roy Williams bounced off the UNC bench and screamed, "STOP FOULING." One of Wake's primary offensive attacks in the second half came at the line, where they were 15 of 22 in the final period. Carolina committed 16 fouls in the second half.
3. Don't take a road win in the Atlantic Coast Conference for granted. In calendar year 2017, road ACC teams came into the Carolina game at 2-16. It's now 3-16 pending the outcome of Boston College-NC State, and the Tar Heels have two (Clemson and Wake) of those victories. That means Carolina is 2-0 on the road in the ACC in 2017, while the rest of the ACC is 1-16.
4. What a workmanlike, veteran, important effort from Kennedy Meeks. The senior was matched up with an athletic, active John Collins in the paint, and while Collins occasionally got the better of him, Meeks won the overall matchup with 18 points and 11 rebounds, plus a couple of big blocked shots late in the game. Collins was probably the prettier player to watch, but Meeks was the more effective. Meeks also kept a potential offensive rebound away from Collins with 20 seconds left by tapping the ball and keeping it alive.
5. Big loss for the Tar Heels in the first half, as Tony Bradley--who had played well (he had four of Carolina's six first-half offensive rebounds) against an aggressive Wake Forest team--took an inadvertent elbow and ended up flat on his back on the Lawrence Joel court. Bradley had concussion-like symptoms, did not return to the game, and will be evaluated back in Chapel Hill. It is, of course, incredibly frustrating that just as the Tar Heels appeared to be getting fully healthy with the return of Pinson, they lose one of their primary reserves.
6. The problems caused by Bradley's injury were then exacerbated by the fact that Luke Maye quickly found himself in foul trouble early in the second half, followed soon after by Isaiah Hicks racking up three quick fouls in the first part of the second half. That left Kennedy Meeks on the floor for a long stretch of the final half, and the veteran responded with some important plays.
7. Roy Williams tossed in some zone in the second half to try and slow Wake's offensive rhythm. The Tar Heels got a quick turnover with the zone when the Deacs tossed the ball away, then switched back to man.
8. When Brandon Childress inevitably has a basketball-playing son of college age in about 25 years, can we go ahead and agree that the Tar Heels should offer him a scholarship regardless of his ability just to keep him away from Wake Forest? Childress, the son of noted Tar Heel-killer Randolph Childress, did not attempt a shot in the first half, and then proceeded to score 16 second-half points and kept Wake seemingly within one possession of the lead for most of the second half.
9. Carolina is going to spend some time in practice the next couple of days working on their defense against a high ball screen. Wake used that set repeatedly in the second half, creating some space and some confusion within the Tar Heel defense.
10. Another thing they'll work on: inbounding the ball under their own basket. That was a problem against NC State (yes, there were rare problems against the Pack), and was an issue again in the final minute. First, the Tar Heels burned a timeout when they were unable to inbound it, then turned it over coming out of the timeout on a play that allowed Wake to cut the deficit to 87-84 with under 35 seconds to play.