CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -Three trips downcourt, three 3-pointers for Ari Stewart. Then fellow freshman C.J. Harris took his turn swishing a couple of open looks from long range.
Nobody told Wake Forest's youngsters they weren't supposed to shoot this way in the Smith Center.
Harris scored a season-high 20 points, Stewart hit three consecutive 3s and the Demon Deacons beat No. 24 North Carolina 82-69 on Wednesday night, sending the Tar Heels to their first three-game losing streak under coach Roy Williams.
``We just wanted to hit them while they're down,' Harris said. ``They had lost two straight before us, and the best time to get somebody is when they're down. That's what we came out and tried to do.'
Ishmael Smith had 20 points, and Al-Farouq Aminu added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (13-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
They entered shooting 33 percent from 3-point range and their 70 3s were the fewest in the ACC. But this time, they shot 56 percent from long range and were 7 of 8 from that distance in the second half of their first victory in Chapel Hill since 2003.
``That might be the best (3-point shooting) in the history of Wake Forest, considering how we shoot the ball,' coach Dino Gaudio said.
Will Graves scored 16 points to lead the Tar Heels (12-7, 1-3). The defending national champions, who have dropped four of five, were playing their first game since falling to No. 24 - their lowest ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 since February 2006. The losing streak is their longest since they dropped five in a row under Matt Doherty in 2002-03.
``It's something that we haven't been through. It's something that we're not enjoying going through,' Williams said. ``We have no chance if we fold and we have no chance if we give in.'
Harris scored 13 points in the second half and Stewart finished with 11 for Wake Forest, which was coming off a 20-point loss three nights earlier at No. 7 Duke. The Demon Deacons salvaged a split against their top instate rivals by winning their second straight against North Carolina and improving to 5-17 inside the Tar Heels' spacious arena.
``I don't want to tell you guys, but inside, it feels great,' Smith said with a laugh.
The senior from Concord, N.C., lost both of his previous visits here by an average of 26.5 points.
North Carolina made it a one-point game shortly after halftime before Wake Forest's first-year guards fueled the 18-6 run that put the Demon Deacons in complete control.
Stewart closed the run with three straight 3s in a 90-second span, capping it with a 25-footer that stretched it to 58-45 with 10:45 to play.
``He does that all the time in practice,' Harris said.
Once the spurt ended, the 3s kept falling: Harris swished a pair 30 seconds apart from the same spot on the left wing, stretching the lead to 68-53 with 7:26 left.
``They're not freshmen anymore,' senior guard L.D. Williams said, adding that he told them ``you guys are tweeners now. You know what's going on. You know how everything's going. That 'I don't know' and 'I didn't know' and 'We're freshmen,' that's not an excuse anymore, and they know that.'
Freshman Travis Wear and Deon Thompson had 13 points apiece, and Graves pulled North Carolina to 40-39 with a 3 with 17 minutes remaining before the Tar Heels faded to the fourth 1-3 start to ACC play in the proud program's history.
``The freshmen are trying ... but they haven't been through these wars yet,' Williams said. ``If I live long enough, maybe it will help us a couple of years down the road. But I don't know if I can live through this.'
Two key members of North Carolina's front line were on the bench in sport coats and ties. No. 2 scorer Ed Davis sat out with a left ankle injury and 7-footer Tyler Zeller missed his third straight game with a stress fracture in his right foot.
But it was in the backcourt where Wake Forest had its way with the Tar Heels.
North Carolina's guards have struggled since Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington left early for the NBA - and the Demon Deacons exploited that weakness repeatedly at both ends of the court, with Wear calling Smith ``a jet.'
``We knew coming in that once he got the ball, it needed to be a team effort to try to stop him from penetrating,' Wear said. ``He still got in there and just caused havoc once he got in there.'
Smith simply beat the Tar Heels downcourt three times for early layups before Harris and Stewart took over from long range after the break. Meanwhile, North Carolina finished 6 for 26 from beyond the arc against the ACC's best defense against the 3 and didn't score any fast-break points.
Smith had 10 points in the first half for the Demon Deacons, who went ahead to stay during a run of 10 straight points midway through. Gary Clark put them up for good with - what else? - a 3-pointer about nine minutes in that made it 19-18.
The Associated Press News Service
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