Roy Williams seemed pleased with his team's effort on Saturday in its overtime win over Virginia Tech, despite his team coming out slow and sluggish the first part of the game.
"Virginia Tech really made us look bad for a huge portion of the game, and yet I was very pleased that we were able to win without P.J. (Hairston) and with Reggie (Bullock) and Leslie (McDonald) going 1 of 13 from the three point line," Williams said Monday morning during the weekly ACC teleconference.
Marcus Paige had his best game of the season against Virginia Tech, especially in overtime and will look to build on his performance Tuesday night.
Paige and North Carolina (15-6, 5-3) will look to get out of the gate a little quicker when it takes the floor to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-6) in Chapel Hill.
However, the Tar Heels will have to do it without P.J. Hairston, who will likely be out again against the Demon Deacons according to Williams.
"Right now I think it's doubtful that P.J. Hairston will play (against Wake Forest). (Sunday) when I left practice I thought that he would practice, but last night he got a little flu bug,"
The Deacons are currently on a three game losing streak after they were completely dominated in all aspects of the game against Maryland last week and lost 86-60 to the Terrapins.
Wake has struggled all season away from Winston-Salem, as they were also overwhelmed away from the Joel Coliseum in double-digit road setbacks at Clemson and Georgia Tech.
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Wake Forest 154-65, while the teams have split their past 16 meetings since 2001-02.
In the Deacons' most recent trip to Chapel Hill, the No. 19-ranked Tar Heels picked up a 78-64 win on Feb. 15, 2011.
Tip-off will be at 7:00pm eastern time, with the game being aired on ESPNU.
DEACONS LOOK FOR FIRST ROAD WIN
Wake Forest is winless on the road so far in conference, playing five games so far in the ACC away from Winston Salem. They had it won in Blacksburg, nursing a late lead only to watch it slip away for a narrow loss.
The Demon Deacons have struggled mightily in the five losses, losing by an average of 16.2 points per game. The scores haven't been pretty.
Duke: 80-62 Loss
Clemson: 60-44 Loss
Virginia Tech: 66-65 Loss
Georgia Tech: 82-62 Loss
Maryland: 86-60 Loss
Even with the troubling times on the road, Wake Forest will certainly come into the Dean Dome with all intentions to give the Tar Heels its second home loss.
Even though the Deacons have 10 freshmen on the team, there will be two guys that the team will lead on for leadership.
Senior guard C.J. Harris and junior forward Travis McKie will be looked upon to carry the Demon Deacons into Chapel Hill Tuesday night.
McKie leads the team in scoring and rebounding respectively, scoring 15.0 points per game while grabbing 7.9 rebounds.
Harris isn't too far behind, scoring 14.5 points a game and being a lethal weapon from behind the arc (42 percent) and from the free throw line (83.2 percent).
Jeff Bzdelik isn't one to make excuses for his team struggling and he knows he has a young team.
However, Bzdelik will need the veterans to step up for the Deacons, especially since he knows how important the veterans are on the team.
"I don't think you can even define how important it is," Bzdelik replied when asked about the importance of his veterans. "The upperclassman leadership is essential, both on and off the court, and as we all know, it's such a big adjustment for young players, particularly coming out of high school, to adapt to a long college season, especially in the ACC."
North Carolina and Williams have been in the same boat as Wake Forest.
While perhaps not quite as young as the Deacs, trying to get an inexperienced team to grow together has been tough at times for Williams, as he mentioned in his teleconference.
"Well, you know, I think it depends on who's coaching. They're similar to us, we've got a junior and a sophomore in Reggie and James Michael (McAdoo), and the rest of our guys are really freshmen or sophomores, and yet I think people do emphasize trying to do a great job on Reggie and James Michael."
"They (Wake Forest) have C.J. and Travis who are seniors and juniors, and one of them is averaging right at 15 (points per game) and the other is averaging barely below 15. You have to emphasize the guys who do most of the scoring."
Freshman Devin Thomas has been a huge positive for the team, as he's become another low post presence for Deacons.
Thomas has increased his statistics in most areas as the Deacons have made the shift from non-conference play to ACC play.
Points per Game: 6.6 /10.1
Rebounds per Game: 6.25 /8.9
Field Goal Percentage: 41.3% /56.7%
Codi Miller-McIntyre has also been a nice complement for Wake, as he's done a nice job scoring (8.4 points per game), while leading the Demon Deacons in assists (2.6).
"I don't think you can ignore everybody else (aside of Harris and McKie) by any means (when you play Wake) because that's going to get you beat," Williams said.
"Devin Thomas in ACC play, his stats are really, really impressive. Codi Miller-McIntyre I thought in the Maryland game made a bunch of shots down the stretch. I don't think you can focus your defense just on them (Harris and McKie)."
With the Tar Heels leading the ACC in scoring offense (78.7 points per game), assists (18.2 assists) and steals (8.4 steals), they will look to push the tempo and try to put the pressure on the young Deacons.
They need the opposite of what happened Saturday---a fast start to get the Demon Deacons restless, and for them to get that 'here we go again' feeling that they surely had at times in Clemson, Atlanta, and College Park.
This is a win that the Tar Heels need as it looks to push its ACC record to three games over .500 and solidify its place in the upper echelon of the league standings.
Heading into Tuesday night the Tar Heels are 5-3 in ACC play, tied for third with Virginia one game behind second-place Duke, and three games behind undefeated frontrunner Miami.
North Carolina will be heading to the Hurricanes Saturday for a rematch Saturday in Coral Gables before renewing the classic rivalry with Duke a week from Wednesday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With the NCAA Tournament looming and the Tar Heels just five victories away from that critical 20th victory that would put them , they can't afford a slip up against an improving but highly inconsistent club like the Demon Deacons.
It's up to them to put Saturday's slow start out of their collective minds and rectify it this time around.