Carolina is back in action tomorrow night as they will host mid-major upstart Furman, in the Smith Center as the non-conference season marches on. The Tar Heels won on Saturday over Elon, 80-63, and have won four straight games after losing back-to-back games in Connecticut 3 weeks ago. During the winning streak, Carolina has held opponents to 63 points or fewer, the first they’ve done so consecutively over a four-game span since the start of the 2012-13 season.
Furman enters the game with a more than respectable 7-3 record, which includes wins over Louisville, Appalachian State, and common opponent the College of Charleston. The Paladins feature a high-powered offense, that is averaging north of 80 points per game, as they shoot 39% from behind the arc as a team. Alex Hunter is one of three Furman players that average double figures scoring, as he leads the team with 17.6 points per game while shooting a team-best 48% from behind the three-point line.
There aren’t many times that you host a mid-major, but you are still able to learn about your team, this is a rare occurrence. Furman has pulled upsets in the past, including Louisville this season, and at Villanova a couple of seasons ago. Factor in their potent offensive ability, and Furman will pose issues for a Tar Heel team, that while they have improved since Thanksgiving, still has some work to do, to become the type of team they want to be.
Carolina enters this game not playing their best in the win over Elon. They shot a season-low 39% from the field, and they were just 7-23 from behind the arc. They will need to shoot the basketball much better in this game, as they hope to get back in rhythm before their measuring stick game against UCLA on Saturday:
Defend 3 Point Line: Even when Carolina was struggling on the defensive end of the floor, the three-point defense wasn’t the issue, it was protecting the rim, For the season Carolina is allowing 7.8 made triples per game, which ranks 233rd in the country. Teams are shooting 23.9 threes per game, which ranks 237th in the NCAA. That averages out to roughly 33%, which is 183rd in college basketball. You could make the argument that outside of Purdue, this is the best three-point shooting team Carolina has seen so far, and they won’t be shy to hoist them early and often. Leaky Black and Anthony Harris have done a great job the last couple of games taking away Georgia Tech’s and Elon’s best perimeter shooters. They’ll need to put together another great effort, as Furman has six players shooting 36% or better from bonus land.
Play Inside-Out: The Tar Heels will be eager to put their bad shooting performance behind them, but they need to stick to their formula, which is still playing inside out. Dawson Garcia will look to build off his 22 point outburst against Elon, while Brady Manek and Armando Bacot will look to rebound from off nights.
Control the Tempo: Despite Carolina being among the best offensive teams in college basketball, they aren’t paly at the pace we grew used to under Roy Williams. Specifically in the second halves of games. Hubert Davis has slowed the pace down, and Carolina has executed their half-court offense efficiently. Furman isn’t going to be afraid to run with Carolina and will want as many possessions as possible. I’m not saying that UNC should be afraid to run with the Paladins, but they need to control the tempo and impose their will on both ends of the floor.
Series History: This will be the 26th all-time meeting between the two schools and the first since 1986. Carolina is 23-2 all-time against the Paladins. In Chapel Hill, UNC is 7-0, with the last victory coming way back in 1972.
UNC - 31st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.3 (13th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.0 (74th)
Furman - 120th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (59th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (224th)
UNC - 34th
Furman - 107th
TV Info: Tomorrow’s game will start at 7 PM, and will air on ESPN2.
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