CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Roy Williams probably didn't think coaching his alma mater in the Atlantic Coast Conference would be like this.
Eric Williams scored six of his 24 points in the third overtime as No. 9 Wake Forest outlasted No. 4 North Carolina, 119-114, to spoil Williams' ACC opener.
In an exhausting and enthralling contest, Wake Forest (7-0, 1-0 ACC) rallied from a 111-107 deficit with 3:42 to play. Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser improved to 5-0 against the Tar Heels with his first win over Williams.
"It's a very disappointing game for us to say the least, and it's got to be exhilarating for Wake Forest," Roy Williams said. "We want to congratulate Skip and his staff and their players. They have to have a phenomenal feeling right now, to go through that experience and end up winning."
Williams, who left Kansas after last season for North Carolina (6-1, 0-1), presided over the school's first loss ever when scoring over 100 points. Each team had a pair of players foul out as the ACC rivals battled long and hard, with neither able to take control.
"As I told our kids, I have been doing this for 30 years and I have never seen anything quite like that," Prosser said. "We battled some adversity just as Carolina did. Both teams kept getting up off the canvas and again, I could not be more proud of our kids."
Eric Williams snapped the game's final tie with an inside hoop with 36 seconds left. Wake's Kyle Visser came up with a block of Jackie Manuel before Taron Downey, who scored 19 points, made 1-of-2 at the line for a 117-114 edge with 18 seconds to go.
North Carolina had one final chance to tie, but Trent Strickland knocked the ball loose from Raymond Felton into the hands of Eric Williams, whose two foul shots finally sealed the victory.
"Considering the caliber of the opponent and the difficulty of the venue, no, I have never been a part of a bigger game," Prosser said.
It was the first triple-overtime contest for North Carolina since a 70-68 victory over Tulane on November 30, 1982, when Roy Williams was an assistant to Dean Smith.
Wake Forest had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but freshman Chris Paul's 35-footer banged off the rim. In the first overtime, the teams combined for 32 points and Paul, who was fouled on a 3-pointer, made 2-of-3 from the line with one second to go for a 104-104 tie.
Each team managed only one basket in a ragged second overtime and Eric Williams' layup with 13 seconds left made it 106-106.
"It is a lot of different things that as a group collectively that we could have done and individually," said Tar Heels forward David Noel, who made his season debut after a thumb injury. "It is behind us now and we are just going to have to move forward."
The Demon Deacons placed seven players in double figures despite playing without injured forward Vytas Danelius. Their output was the most ever allowed by North Carolina.
North Carolina had six players in double figures for the first time since December 29, 2000 as Jawad Williams and Sean May, who fouled out in the second overtime, each had double-doubles.