Jan. 15, 2005
Wow, the electricity in Lawrence Joel Coliseum was unbelievable, baby! And so was Wake Forest's shooting from the foul line in a 95-82 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
North Carolina's explosive offense was held in check for the first half as the Demon Deacons took charge. Wake built a 10-point halftime lead and held off the Tar Heels in a fantastic basketball environment. It was more like an ACC championship or an NCAA Tournament game the way the crowd of Screamin' Demons was going crazy for its team.
The bottom line is, in my 26 years of calling basketball games for ESPN and ABC, I can't remember a team going 32-of-32 on the foul line. It was awesome, baby, with a capital 'A'! Wake Forest came into the contest shooting less than 66 percent from the line, and that was supposed to be one of the team's Achilles' heels! Somebody forgot to tell that to coach Skip Prosser's club.
||I can't remember a team going 32-of-32 on the foul line. It was awesome, baby, with a capital 'A'!
Chris Paul was simply brilliant, scoring 26 points and dishing eight assists. That is why I picked him as my midseason player of the year.
Another key for the Demon Deacons was the bench, an area which is normally a plus for the Tar Heels. Taron Downey gave a big lift when Justin Gray picked up his second foul early. Chris Ellis, the son of former NBA standout Dale Ellis, also provided a boost inside.
Rashad McCants made some great moves and tried to rally North Carolina in the second half. In the end, Wake Forest's perfection on the charity stripe was the difference in the game.
North Carolina's two losses were both on the road -- to Santa Clara and Wake Forest. The Tar Heels did beat Indiana on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
It's a shame that with the ACC expansion these teams won't meet again in the regular season. They could meet in the ACC tournament, and perhaps in St. Louis at the Final Four.
Right now Wake Forest, North Carolina, Illinois and Kansas are my picks to make it to the Final Four, so there is a shot we can see Paul vs. Raymond Felton, Prosser vs. Roy Williams and Sean May against Eric Williams again down the line.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.