No. 1 UNC 80, No. 19 Wake Forest 74

Wednesday, February 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Joseph Forte scored 24 points as No. 1 North Carolina shot 54 percent en route to an 80-74 victory over No. 19 Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

The win extended North Carolina's NCAA record of consecutive 20-win seasons to 31 as the Tar Heels (20-2, 10-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) also notched their 17th straight victory despite 20 turnovers.

Wake Forest (15-7, 4-6) led for much of the second half, but fell apart on both ends of the floor late. After starting the season 12-0, the Demon Deacons have dropped seven of their last 10.

Forte hit an off-balance jumper with the shot clock on 1 second and the Tar Heels clinging to a 72-69 lead with 1:12 left, and made two free throws a half-minute later.

Wake Forest's Craig Dawson scored a career-high 29 points on 14-of-26 shooting, but he couldn't prevent North Carolina from snapping his team's 14-game home winning streak. Josh Howard added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Dawson's previous high was 23 points at Temple in December.

The Tar Heels, playing as the nation's top-ranked team for the first time since March 1998, got 13 points each from Kris Lang, Brendan Haywood and Jason Capel. Haywood also had six assists and four blocks.

The Tar Heels trailed 63-58 with 8:08 left before going on a 14-2 run as Lang scored on a hook shot and follow, Haywood had a slam and layup, and Julius Peppers a dunk as North Carolina went inside when it counted.

Haywood also had a key block of a follow shot by Howard with 4:33 remaining as North Carolina stretched its lead to seven — which matched its biggest lead in the first half.

North Carolina scored on seven of eight possessions during its run and its shooting percentage snapped Wake Forest's streak of 30 straight games holding opponents to under 50 percent from the field.

Dawson, who had been slumping during ACC play, was 7-for-11 in the first half for 15 points to keep the Demon Deacons in the hunt.

North Carolina's biggest lead of the half was seven before Dawson had five points in an 11-2 run as neither team could build a double-digit margin as the Tar Heels coughed up the ball 11 times.

The Demon Deacons, plagued by foul trouble during their monthlong slump, didn't pick one up until 8:23 was gone and finished the half with just six.

But North Carolina was 9-for-20 from 3-point range to outscore the Demon Deacons 27-6 from beyond the arc.