Jan. 23, 2007
North Carolina has built its reputation this season with a strong offense, but its defense also has shined.
The fourth-ranked Tar Heels will look to turn in another solid defensive effort Wednesday when they visit struggling Wake Forest.
North Carolina (17-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat Georgia Tech 77-61 on Saturday, three days after defeating No. 19 Clemson 77-55 in a game during which the Tigers were limited to just 33.8 percent shooting from the field.
The Tar Heels rank second in the country with 87.5 points scored per game, but are also fourth in the ACC with 65.7 allowed per contest.
"We've gotten a lot better (defensively) since the beginning of the season," sophomore swingman Danny Green said. "We're coming along real well. We're holding teams shooting to 40 percent and cut down on turnovers and make them turnover and that's how we get easy baskets. That is the key to our success is off our defense."
The Tar Heels have held all but five of their opponents this season to fewer than 70 points. In their losses, however, they allowed 82 points to Gonzaga on Nov. 22 and 94 to Virginia Tech on Jan. 13. Both foes were unranked.
"I can't say that we have developed as one distinct personality as a team together," sophomore forward Tyler Hansbrough said. "I think we'll develop later on, but we'll keep learning and later on maybe you'll see something in our defense."
Hansbrough, who leads the team with 18.7 points, had 24 against the Yellow Jackets and matched a career high with 14 free throws on 15 attempts. Hansbrough, who played with a sore back against Clemson, had problems with Georgia Tech's physical play.
"They were real physical tonight. I've been with some physical teams, and I'm used to that," he said.
Senior forward Reyshawn Terry added 16 points for the Tar Heels, but freshman Brandan Wright failed to reach double figures for the first time as a Tar Heel, finishing with nine points.
The victory made North Carolina just the second NCAA school, along with Kentucky, to record 1,900 wins.
The Demon Deacons (9-9, 1-5) have dropped four straight, including Sunday's 88-76 loss at Virginia. Sean Singletary had 19 points for Wake Forest, which has been outscored by an average of 14.5 points during its skid.
Kyle Visser, who leads Wake with 17.4 points, was held to just eight points, failing to score in double digits for the first time this season.
"They just attacked me every time I got the ball," Visser said. "Everyone was digging down, and double teaming seemed to work for them."
North Carolina leads the all-time series between the teams 148-63, and has won two of the last three after dropping five straight in the series.