Wake Forest spent the past few years trying to re-create the magic of Chris Paul. The Demon Deacons have finally done it - by not trying so hard to become an exact copy of his final team.
Still, a few similarities can't hurt - such as having yet another high-scoring point guard.
Behind Jeff Teague's career-high 34 points, the fourth-ranked Demon Deacons held on for a 92-89 victory over No. 3 North Carolina last night that marked the first big win of the season for coach Dino Gaudio's young but talented team.
"I remember these last three years, we'd try to be like the Chris Paul team. You try to fulfill that role. ... We had everybody trying to fulfill a role, but us as a team, we have our own identity," said guard Harvey Hale, the team's only senior on scholarship. "That's why we're good."
Chas McFarland matched a season high with 20 points for host Wake Forest (14-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which remained one of three unbeatens in Division I and matched the 1980-81 team that also won its first 14 games.
Danny Green scored 22 points, and Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough added 17 apiece for North Carolina. Hansbrough's 17 came on 3-of-12 shooting, and he missed all five of his shots in the second half for the Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2).
"It seems like teams are playing me more physical and trying to push me outside," Hansbrough said. "But it's on me to get inside and get my position."
He and his teammates probably have lost their prime position in the polls, too.
In eight days, the once-unanimous No. 1 team in the nation has lost two of three and shares last place in the ACC with Georgia Tech.
North Carolina has lost its first two league games for the first time since 1996-97, when it started 0-3, and coach Roy Williams' team has been hampered by the absence of top defender Marcus Ginyard, who missed his second straight game and has been slow to recover from offseason foot surgery.
"I know this team. I know the character we have on this team," Green said. "I don't question how tough we are. I know we're going to bounce back and keep pushing forward. No matter how many losses you're going to take, I feel like this team is going to be where we need to be when it comes to that point in the season."
Teague clearly outplayed his counterpart: North Carolina's Ty Lawson, who finished 4-for-12 from the field, missed all four of his threes and turned the ball over four times.
Teague entered with an ACC-leading average of 19.6 points - Hansbrough's average of 22 points would have been tops in the league had he played in at least 75 percent of North Carolina's games.
"He was our lion," Gaudio said of Teague. "He was not going to let us lose."
Instead, Teague finished 9-for-17 from the field, hit three of four three-pointers and was 13-for-15 from the free-throw line. During one second-half stretch, Teague slashed his way through the lane for layups on three consecutive possessions.
"I told Jeff Teague that was about as good a performance as I've seen in a long time against a team that I'm coaching," Williams said.
Playing in front of a record Joel Coliseum announced crowd of 14,714 that included one-time Wake Forest (and Dunbar) guard Muggsy Bogues, former coach Dave Odom - and a student dressed as Dino from The Flintstones in honor of Gaudio - the Demon Deacons started strong and twice led by nine in the first half.
No. 1 Pittsburgh 90, St. John's 67: : DeJuan Blair scored 23 points and cleaned up inside with 15 rebounds as the host Panthers (15-0, 3-0 Big East), playing their first game as the nation's top-ranked team, pulled away in the second half from the Red Storm (10-5, 1-2), one of the few Big East Conference members not among the Top 25.
D.J. Kennedy scored 18 for St. John's.
No. 10 UCLA 64, Southern California 60: : Darren Collison scored 18 points to lead the visiting Bruins (13-2, 3-0 Pacific-10) over the Trojans (10-5, 1-2).
No. 14 Purdue 65, Wisconsin 52: : JaJuan Johnson had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Robbie Hummel scored 16 in his return from a back injury and the host Boilermakers (12-4, 1-2 Big Ten) ended the Badgers' three-game winning streak.
Joe Krabbenhoft had 13 points and seven rebounds for Wisconsin (12-4, 3-1).
Alberto Estwick had 20 points for the host Rams (2-12, 0-2), who have lost five straight games.