CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Josh Howard forcefully made his case for ACC Player of the Year.
Howard scored a career-high 32 points and Vytas Danelius added 15 as 18th-ranked Wake Forest recorded their third straight win over North Carolina, 79-75, in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.
The Demon Deacons (15-2, 5-2) have won three straight against the Tar Heels for the first time since 1969-71. They swept two meetings last season by an average of 23 points.
Wake Forest has recorded back-to-back victories in Chapel Hill for the first time since 1981-82.
Howard hit a driving layup and the ensuing free throw with 21.4 seconds left to give Wake Forest a 78-75 advantage. After North Carolina's Jawad Williams missed a 3-pointer, Taron Downey made a free throw to secure the victory.
"That was actually a play where Vytas was the first option," Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser said. "Josh was the second option. In all honesty, I think Josh decided to put the game on his shoulders and make or not make a play. Although, I'd say they had Vytas defended pretty well."
Howard has averaged 24.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the last six games. The Demon Deacons are 5-1 during the span.
"When we came here (to Wake Forest) last year, Josh had a reputation for being a less than scintillating practice player," Prosser said. "He has changed that a great deal. He's a guy who comes early and stays late. ... He inspires his teammates. He wills them to win.
"This is a tough venue to play in. Matt (Dougherty) coached (the Tar Heels) well and his kids played well, but Josh wasn't having it. I think he gave our kids the courage that, despite the crowd, we were going to find a way to win."
Williams scored 22 points for the Tar Heels (11-9, 2-5), who dropped their fourth straight game.
"We just need to make foul shots," Dougherty said. "We need to shoot the ball better and we didn't, yet we still had a chance to tie it up with 30 seconds to go."
The Tar Heels shot just 65 percent (15-of-23) from the line and 37 percent (25-of-67) from the floor. They slipped to 7-3 at home and 1-2 in three ACC games here.
The Demon Deacons continue to succeed without freshman starting point guard Justin Gray, who suffered a broken jaw in a loss to Duke on January 12. Wake Forest is 5-1 since the injury.