CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—North Carolina celebrated two of its national championship teams on Saturday. Then the current Tar Heels showed they might be capable of winning a title of their own.
Reyshawn Terry scored 23 points in his final game against his hometown team, Tyler Hansbrough added 16 and No. 5 North Carolina routed Wake Forest 104-67 on a day when the Tar Heels honored their championship teams from 1957 and 1982.
“That gives us thrills, chills, what have you, just to see those guys come back and to see how much they’ve achieved and accomplished,” Terry said. “It makes us want to press on, play hard and live up to our goals that we have in front of us.”
Brandan Wright had 15 points and fellow freshman Wayne Ellington added 11 for the Tar Heels (22-3, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who cracked the 100-point mark with more than 3 minutes remaining, reached triple figures for the seventh time and fell one point shy of the season-high 105 they scored Dec. 19 against Florida Atlantic.
North Carolina avoided a host of distractions—which included the imposing presence of Michael Jordan sitting behind a basket—by shooting nearly 61 percent in the first half. The Tar Heels built a huge halftime lead and routed the Demon Deacons for the second time this season.
“Brandan, Tyler, Reyshawn inside, we talked about how (in) the Duke game, we settled for the outside shot too quickly, and we did not want to do that” against Wake Forest, coach Roy Williams said. “That’s how you shoot 61 percent.”
The 37-point margin equaled North Carolina’s most lopsided victory of the series, matching the Tar Heels’ 100-63 romp on Jan. 25, 1984.
Anthony Gurley had 12 points to lead Wake Forest (11-13, 2-9) and Kyle Visser scored 11 before fouling out with about 9 minutes left.
The Demon Deacons didn’t get closer than 19 points in the second half of their first visit to the Dean Smith Center since 2003, and their three-game winning streak on North Carolina’s home floor ended.
“It’s disconcerting. We’ve had good success against Carolina in the past. Certainly not this year,” Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said.
The Tar Heels had plenty of chances to lose their focus after an emotional, 79-73 victory at rival Duke.
“Our energy, we have to have it for every game in the ACC, or you’re going to take a loss,” Hansbrough said.
Plus, North Carolina was honoring the 50th and 25th anniversaries of two of its five title teams. Stars James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Jordan joined former coach Dean Smith in creating an intimidating scene, watching from behind the basket Wake Forest shot at during the first half.
“We look up to them—we want to do something like they did,” Hansbrough said. “There’s a little pressure. Any time you play for North Carolina, you’re expected to do good things.”
Aside from a brief hiccup midway through the first half, though, North Carolina was in control from start to finish.
Wake Forest momentarily made things interesting, using a 13-2 run to erase a 10-point deficit and taking its first lead when Kevin Swinton’s dunk made it 21-20 with just under 9 minutes until halftime.
The teams traded baskets before the Tar Heels closed the first half with a 29-9 burst keyed by Ellington and Hansbrough. Ellington started the decisive run when his 3-pointer from the right corner put North Carolina ahead to stay and had eight points during the burst. Hansbrough had six, and the Tar Heels led 51-32 halftime.
“It was like that snowball effect—it got rolling and got bigger and bigger for us,” Williams said.
It was Wake Forest’s first game in Chapel Hill since Dec. 20, 2003, when the Chris Paul-led Demon Deacons beat the Tar Heels 119-114 in a triple-overtime thriller regarded as one of the best games in ACC history. For a while in the second half of this one, North Carolina threatened to match that point total in regulation.
“The second half was like an avalanche,” Prosser said.