North Carolina dropped its third straight road game, falling 98-76 at Wake Forest on Saturday in Lawrence Joel Veteran Memorial Coliseum.
The Heels (12-6, 4-3 ACC) at one point trailed by at least 20 points for the fourth time this season as it did in losses to Tennessee, Kentucky and Miami
Forward Brady Manek, facing his former Oklahoma teammate Alondes Williams for the first time, led the Heels with 22 points before fouling out with five minutes left.
Carolina had another poor shooting performance, but it was initially bailed out by its offensive rebounding. The Heels had 23 offensive rebounds, which led to a season-high 29 second chance points.
But they game was lost because they couldn’t stop Wake from scoring. The Deacs led by 10 at halftime and opened the second half making 10 of their first 13 shots to open up a 19-point lead. Wake (16-4, 6-3) shot 54 percent from the field for the game and was led by Jake LaRavia’s career-high 31 points.
Here’s what we learned from Carolina’s loss:
Headed for the bubble?
Carolina’s loss to Wake puts it in a tougher position to build a solid NCAA resume. The Heels still don’t have a Quad I win in the NET rankings and just have three opportunities left to do so, according to the latest update.
Both games against Duke and a road trip to Virginia Tech are the only potential Quad I opportunities. And the Hokies could fall out of that range after their loss to Boston College on Saturday. The way it looks now, UNC isn’t likely to be favored in any of those games.
The Heels best non-conference win against Michigan isn’t as good as it looked in the preseason when the Wolverines were a top 5 team.
Even if they manage to have a winning conference record, in a season when the ACC overall is down, there’s no guarantee that will be enough.
Garcia not the same
UNC forward Dawson Garcia was averaging 10.8 points per game through Carolina’s first 12 games and shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point range and 45.2 percent from the field. Then, two minutes into their win at Boston College, he suffered a concussion when 7-footer Quinten Post fell on his head.
Garcia missed games against Notre Dame and Virginia before returning to the lineup — but not as a starter — against Georgia Tech.
In the three games since his return, the 6-foot-11 sophomore hasn’t reached double figures scoring. He did grab a season-high 11 rebounds against the Yellow Jackets. But his shooting has not returned to form. Garcia was 3-for-10 against the Deacs with seven points. That brings his shooting percentages in the last three games to 22.2 percent from the field (4-for-18) and 12.5 percent (1-for-8) from 3-point range.
Wake got moving whenever they had the opportunity and the Heels had no answer for them. The Deacs outscored UNC 18-0 in fast break points in the first half and finished with a 28-point advantage in that category. Wake’s 30 fast break points are the most allowed by the Heels this season.
It marks the third straight game that Carolina has been outscored in transition. And it moved their opponents’ total for the season past the Heels 187-162.