This Day in ACC History: 50 Years Ago (Wake Forest @ North Carolina)
In a new feature, the Confidential will attempt to bridge the gap between yesterday and today by providing some publicity for ACC events from the past. Today, the Confidential takes a look at a regular season game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The game took place on February 10, 1962–exactly 50 years ago today.
At the time, these were two of the true blue-bloods of ACC basketball. North Carolina had already established itself as a great basketball school, most recently under the coaching of Frank McGuire. Wake Forest would finish #1 in the ACC during the 1961-1962 season. On February 10, 1962, Wake Forest traveled to North Carolina and won, 87-80.
One of the notable facts of this game is that North Carolina was coached by a young man named Dean Smith. The Wake Forest game was only his 11th game ever. As we know, he would go on to win many more games before retiring in 1997 with a then-record 879 wins. While that record has since fallen to Coach K, Bob Knight, and most recently Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith was a legend in the game.
But the 1961-1962 North Carolina team would struggle. First, due to a point-shaving scandal, the team drastically cut back its regular season schedule. Second, the team would finish 8-9 on the year, including 7-7 in conference play.
Against Wake Forest, the Tar Heels were led by Senior Larry Brown’s 21 points. Yes, that Larry Brown. Brown led the team in scoring that year with 16.5 points per game. Senior Jim Hudock also scored 21 points.
Wake Forest jumped out to a 47-37 lead at the half, before holding on to win the game. The leading scorer was Senior Forward Len Chappell, who scored 36 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. On the season, Chappell would average a remarkable 30.1 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. Senior Guard Billy Packer also contributed 14 points in the win over North Carolina. Yes, that Billy Packer.
The Demon Deacons would finish the ACC slate 12-2. They then defeated Clemson to win the ACC conference tournament. And then in the Big Dance (although not quite as big back then), Wake Forest advanced to the Final Four with wins over Yale, St. Joseph’s, and Villanova. Wake would lose to Ohio State before beating UCLA in the consolation game.
That was a lot of star power on one court–only nobody could have possibly realized it yet. Fifty years later–two coaching icons and a broadcasting icon.
Do you remember this game? Please feel free to share any details…
This Day in History is a feature that relies heavily on information obtained from Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Games, Michael O’ Hara, McFarland & Company, Inc. (2008). Special thanks to that fine publication.