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Wake works long, late for upset

Associated Press
Published December 21, 2003

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Roy Williams' first ACC game proved to be a memorable one - even in defeat.

Eric Williams hit a jumper in the lane with 36 seconds left in the third overtime and added two late free throws to lift No. 14 Wake Forest to a 119-114 victory Saturday over No. 4 North Carolina.

"It's a very disappointing game for us to say the least, and it's got to be exhilarating for Wake Forest," said Roy Williams, who left Kansas to take over the Tar Heels after last season. "I'll remember this one for the rest of my life. The quality of the play at times was really amazing, shots they made and shots we made."

In the Tar Heels' first three-overtime game since Williams was an assistant for Dean Smith in 1982, the teams provided a thrilling start to the conference season.

Thirteen players scored in double figures, and the final total was two points shy of a 25-year-old record for points in a league game.

"I have been doing this for 30 years," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said, "and I have never seen anything quite like that."

Eric Williams scored 24 and Justin Gray added 20 for the Demon Deacons (7-0), who earned their first road win against a Top 10 team in six years.

Taron Downey scored 19 and Chris Paul added 18 for Wake, which scored the most points ever allowed by UNC.

Rashad McCants scored 25 and Raymond Felton added 22 for the Tar Heels (6-1), who have lost five straight games in the series.

Williams appeared completely at ease before the game, sharing holiday greetings with the referees. He also continued his pregame tradition of throwing T-shirts into the student section.

Wake Forest's size and depth proved to be key after Sean May fouled out with 3:41 to play in the third overtime. With May out, the 6-foot-9 Williams had his way inside, and 6-foot-11 reserve Kyle Visser added a key putback.

After each team scored only two in the second overtime, the offenses came back in the third.

North Carolina took a 111-107 lead on a dunk from Jawad Williams. But Downey answered with a 3-pointer, and Visser put the Demon Deacons ahead 112-111 with a tip-in with 2:20 left.

After a basket by Williams gave Wake Forest a three-point lead, Melvin Scott converted a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie at 114 with 1:03 left.

That's when Williams put the Demon Deacons ahead to stay. After his inside basket, Williams hit two free throws to seal it with 2.4 seconds left.

"Sean May is a big body, but big "E' is a huge body," Paul said. "When Sean May left the game, we knew to punch it inside."

The game featured the league's top scoring teams, with UNC at an average of 88.3 and Wake at 87.8.

The teams repeatedly pushed the ball up the court, thrilling the sellout crowd of 21,750.

The Tar Heels sent the game into overtime tied at 88 when Felton found Jawad Williams open for a dunk with 20.9 seconds to play. Paul sent it to a second OT for Wake when he hit two of his three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play, tying it at 104.

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