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Heel Tough Blog: Gardner-Webb Preview

Carolina returns to the floor after having a week off since winning at UNC-Wilmington last Friday. In their last outing, the Heels were led by big games from Cole Anthony & Justin Pierce, to earn a 78-62 win over the instate Seahawks.

The Bulldogs enter tonight's contest with a 0-2 record. to Furman & Western Carolina. The program made its first ever NCAA tournament a season ago, and as you can expect after a special season, they've struggled early on. Gardner-Webb is lead by Jose Perez who's averaging 16 points a game, while shooting 37% from the field, and 50% from behind the three point line. As a team, they've struggled scoring the ball in all facets, only averaging 40% from the field, 34% from deep, and only 64% from the free throw line.

Carolina enters tonight, eager to clean up some early season issues. Despite Cole Anthony putting the college basketball world on notice, Carolina has struggled in transition, and from the charity stripe. They've only managed 23 fast breaks points, and have missed a combined 21 foul shots in 2 games. Armando Bacot returns tonight, after leaving the UNC-W game early with a head injury. Brandon Robinson remains out, but continues to progress as he nears his return. Here are 3 things to watch tonight:

1. Bacot's Return: The freshmen big man left early a week ago, with a head injury. Before the head injury, he also picked up 2 quick fouls as well. It's no surprise the rookie has struggled in his transition to major college basketball. He showed some flashes against Notre Dame, of the kind of big man he can be. Tonight he can take another step, as his progression continues.

2. Foul Shooting: As mentioned earlier, Carolina has struggled mightily from the foul line. When a focus of your offense is to get the opponent into foul trouble, you need to make good on your freebies. It would be different if it was just the big guys having issues at the line, but even Cole Anthony & Justin Pierce have had their problems. Expect to see a more concentrated effort tonight.

3. Can Justin Pierce Build Off UNC-W?: The grad transfer from William & Mary exploded for a double double in the first half, in Trask Coliseum. After having a sub-par debut against Notre Dame, he appeared to not only be more comfortable, but more confident on the floor. With Carolina needing more options on the offensive end, Pierce appears to be the guy to give the team a lift when coming off the bench.


UNC: 6th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.7 (4th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 86.5 (9th)

Gardner Webb: 221st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 96.0 (232nd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.5 (203rd)

TV Info: Tonight's game will be televised by the ACC Network, with a 9 pm tip time.

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