Suddenly 0-2 in ACC play, No. 3 Tar Heels baffled Print
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Sunday, 11 January 2009 18:43
NCAAB Headline News


 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -So much for the talk of whether North Carolina could actually go unbeaten this season. The third-ranked Tar Heels couldn't get through the first week of Atlantic Coast Conference play before matching their league loss total for all last season.
One week after a stunning home loss to Boston College, the team everybody picked for No. 1 now finds itself 0-2 in ACC play for the first time in more than a decade after Sunday's 92-89 loss at No. 4 Wake Forest.
All those lofty preseason expectations and magazine covers seem distant after this week. The top six scorers are back from a Final Four team that won a school-record 36 games, but the Tar Heels look like a different team searching for what's gone wrong.
r Hansbrough, who had 17 points but didn't manage a field goal after the 8:16 mark of the first half. ``But you have to understand: It's early. We've got a lot of games to prove ourselves. Hopefully with these next couple of games, we'll do that. We'll find out who we are as a team and practice.''
The answers haven't come as easily as last year, when the Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2) lost just twice in the ACC before winning their second straight tournament title on the way to a 36-3 season.
They haven't had the same toughness since losing versatile senior swingman Marcus Ginyard, who has been slow to recover from preseason foot surgery and missed his second straight game Sunday. They don't have the depth they expected after losing 7-foot freshman Tyler Zeller to a broken wrist in the second game of the year.
They couldn't stop Tyrese Rice and Boston College's outside shooting in the 85-78 loss to the Eagles, a team picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the ACC. Then, after an easy win against College of Charleston, they found themselves unable to stop another point guard - this time, Jeff Teague - and playing catch-up most of the second half before coming up short in the final seconds.
t going to be as easy as maybe they thought.
``Sometimes we just went out there and expected to win instead of going out there and taking to win,'' said Wayne Ellington, who had 17 points. ``We expected teams to just roll over for us instead coming out from the gate and making a statement and taking the game.''
Hansbrough struggled from the field against 7-footer Chas McFarland and other members of Wake Forest's physical front line, finishing 3-for-12 while constantly finding himself getting the ball further and further from the paint. Ellington didn't get much going offensively until a late burst as the Tar Heels tried to rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 4 1/2 minutes.
Then there was point guard Ty Lawson and forward Deon Thompson, who struggled like they did against BC. Lawson had just nine points on 4-for-12 shooting with four turnovers and was completely outplayed by Teague, who finished with a career-high 34 points.
As for Thompson, Hansbrough's frontcourtmate who came into the game averaging 13.5 points per game, he struggled through a miserable night in which he repeatedly had shots swatted away and bricked an easy one-handed dunk. He finished with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting, following his six-point performance against the Eagles.
night. After spending the preseason shrugging off questions whether his team could finish unbeaten, he's now hearing questions as to what his team needs to do in order to start climbing the ACC standings.
``It is what it is. We're 0-2 and we're going to try to play better, be more effective,'' Williams said. ``I told the kids ... I'm still looking at the big picture and know that we can get a heck of a lot better. There's no question that the conference race is always our No. 1 goal, but it's not over with after just two games.''
 

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