CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- 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
Wake Forest (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) to a 119-114 victory Saturday over fourth-ranked North
"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
In the Tar Heels' first three-overtime game since Williams was
an assistant for Dean Smith in November 1982, the teams provided a
thrilling start to the conference season.
Thirteen players scored in double figures, and the teams
combined to finish two points shy of breaking a 25-year-old record
for most points in an ACC 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 points 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.
Williams appeared completely at ease before the game, wishing
the referees merry Christmas and continuing 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, while 6-foot-11 reserve
Kyle Visser added a key putback.
After each team scored only two points in the second overtime,
the offenses came back in the third extra session.
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 bucket by Williams gave Wake Forest a 3-point lead,
Melvin Scott drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the
game at 114 with 1:03 left.
That's when Williams put the Demon Deacons ahead to stay. After his inside bucket, Williams hit two free throws to seal it with 2.4
"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 two top-scoring teams in the ACC, with
North Carolina ranking first with an average of 88.3 points per
game and Wake Forest averaging 87.8 points. Both teams repeatedly
pushed the ball up the court, providing plenty of offense in front
of a sellout crowd of 21,750.
"This ... shows how everybody in this league loves this game,"
Eric Williams said. "When you have two teams like that fighting
for a win, rankings are not an issue."
McCants hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds to play in the first
overtime to give North Carolina a 103-102 lead. After Jawad Williams' free throw pushed the lead to two, Paul sent the game into a second overtime when he hit two of three free throws after
being fouled on a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play.
North Carolina had several chances, but went 1-for-4 from the
line after McCants' 3. The Tar Heels went 0-for-2 from the line in
the second and third overtimes.
"We had many opportunities," Scott said. "We had the game won
and made stupid plays."