Bullock, UNC blow by Wake Forest
Reggie Bullock’s first 3-pointer banked in. Another bounced off the front of the rim before falling through the net.
The shots were falling for Bullock and for everyone else on North Carolina, which blew out Wake Forest 87-62 on Tuesday night at the Smith Center.
While the Demon Deacons (10-12, 3-7 ACC) have lost six of their past seven games, the Tar Heels (16-6, 6-3) have won six of seven heading into road games against the ACC’s top two teams — at Miami on Saturday and at Duke next Wednesday.
Facing the ACC’s worst field-goal percentage defense, UNC shot 51.6 percent overall and 60 percent from behind the arc en route to its highest-scoring conference game of the season.
The Tar Heels’ two top players — Bullock (23 points) and James Michael McAdoo (20) — both scored 20 points in the same game for the first time, while P.J. Hairston, who suffered a concussion on Jan. 29 and had a 24-hour virus on Monday, returned to score 11 points off the bench.
After going 3-of-13 in Saturday’s overtime win over Virginia Tech, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range, Bullock was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from behind the arc on Tuesday. Meanwhile, McAdoo hit the 20-point mark in two straight games for the first time in his career.
“Last summer I said (Bullock and McAdoo) needed to be a big force every night, and they were a big force tonight to say the least,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.
Not that they needed one, but the Tar Heels even got a boost from Hairston, who was cleared to play Tuesday afternoon. Hairston had to leave the bench Saturday because the crowd noise gave him a headache, then came down with a bug early Monday morning.
As a result, Williams had said that Hairston was “very unlikely” to play against Wake Forest, while the sophomore guard, who was hooked up to an IV at the hospital Monday, was even less optimistic.
“If you would have asked me yesterday at 11 (a.m.), I probably wouldn’t have answered the question because that’s how bad I was feeling,” Hairston said. “Honestly, that’s probably the worst I’ve ever felt.”
But the symptoms cleared, and Hairston nearly replicated the point-per-minute pace he was on in the three games before the concussion, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes and making 2 of 3 shots from behind the arc.
“He’s an immediate scorer,” Bullock said. “He takes a lot of attention off shooters like me. So once he comes in and knocks down shots, it definitely opens the floor up for McAdoo to work down low and for me to come off screens.”
UNC also scored 26 points off 21 Wake Forest turnovers, the most the Demon Deacons have had this season.
“Obviously, the emphasis going into this game was to not turn the ball over, something that we worked on,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “Obviously, we did a terrible job of that.”
UNC was up 32-26 with six minutes left in the first half when Bullock stole the ball and converted a layup. That started a 15-1 run to end the half that gave the Tar Heels a 20-point lead at the break.
“That’s Carolina basketball — getting out in transition and getting easy points,” Bullock said.
Ten UNC players made field goals in the first half, while the team shot 62.1 percent and Marcus Paige already grabbed a career-high six rebounds.
The Demon Deacons had more turnovers (13) than field goals (nine) in the first half as they continue to struggle away from home. Despite beating N.C. State and almost knocking off Duke in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest has lost its six conference road games by an average of 17.7 points.
Freshman Devin Thomas (11 points, 13 rebounds) scored four points for Wake Forest to start the second half, but the Tar Heels responded with nine straight to go up by 25. UNC led by as many as 34 with five minutes remaining.
“I think we just lose our confidence quickly,” Bzdelik said. “We just do. You can see it in their eyes.”
UNC 87, Wake Forest 62
Percentages: FG .436, FT .706. 3-Point Goals: 2-18, .111 (Fischer 2-4, Jennings 0-1, Cavanaugh 0-2, Miller-McIntyre 0-2, McKie 0-4, Harris 0-5). Team Rebounds: 0. Blocked Shots: 2 (Rountree III, Thomas). Turnovers: 21 (Jones 4, Thomas 4, Harris 4, McKie 3, Cavanaugh 2, Miller-McIntyre 2, Rountree III, Fischer). Steals: 6 (Miller-McIntyre 2, Adala Moto 2, Thomas, McKie).
Percentages: FG .516, FT .560. 3-Point Goals: 9-15, .600 (Bullock 4-5, Hairston 2-3, McDonald 2-4, Paige 1-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 14 (Paige 4, Tokoto 4, James 2, Simmons, Bullock, Strickland, McAdoo). Steals: 7 (McAdoo 4, James, Bullock, Hubert).
A—19,653. Officials—Les Jones, Brian Dorsey, Ed Corbett.