No. 11 NCarolina 65, No. 9 Wake Forest 59
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) _ Jeff McInnis’ steal and shot in the lane with 1:09 left helped cap one of North Carolina’s greatest comebacks as the 11th-ranked Tar Heels defeated No. 9 Wake Forest 65-59 Saturday.
North Carolina (15-4, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed by 18 points with 17:23 left after shooting a season-low 27 percent in the first half. The Tar Heels went on a 26-10 run to get back into the game, and then made all the key plays down the stretch to knock the Demon Deacons (13-3, 5-2) out a tie for first place in the league.
The Tar Heels’ best comeback ever was also against Wake Forest on Feb. 8, 1992, rallying from 20 points down with 14:49 left to win by two.
North Carolina had taken a one-point lead with 2:44 left _ its first since the 15:00 mark of the first half _ but Tony Rutland’s 3-pointer gave Wake Forest a 57-56 lead less than a minute later.
After two misses on its next possession, North Carolina got the break it needed when McInnis stole the ball from Rutland and then made a short shot in the lane, giving the Tar Heels the lead for good at 58-57.
Tim Duncan, a 71 percent free-throw shooter who finished with 22 points, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 41.5 seconds left. McInnis, who scored 20 points, picked up the rebound after a scramble along the baseline and then hit two free throws to push the margin to three.
Shammond Williams hit two free throws with 14.7 seconds left with the Tar Heels clinging to a two-point lead.
North Carolina, which went without a point for almost eight minutes in the first half, and Georgia Tech are now tied for first in the ACC with 6-1 marks. Wake Forest falls to third.
Duncan didn’t take a shot in the first 7 1/2 minutes, but scored six of his 10 first-half points during Wake Forest’s 13-0 run.
North Carolina was 0-for-6 from the field with six turnovers during its dry spell as the Demon Deacons limited the ACC’s top rebounding team to only one second-chance basket in the first 20 minutes.
The Tar Heels also went the final three minutes of the opening period without scoring as Steve Goolsby and Jerry Braswell each hit 3-pointers to give the Demon Deacons a 32-18 halftime lead.