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Heel Tough Blog: Georgia Tech Preview

Melina Myers - USA TODAY Sports

After winning at Florida State on Saturday, the Tar Heels are on the road again tonight, as they travel to Georgia Tech, to take on the Yellow Jackets, as we’re at the midday point in conference play. Carolina enters with a 17-3 record, 9-0 in the ACC, and is riding a 10-game winning streak, in the process, separated itself as the team to beat in the ACC, and has vaulted itself into the national title conversation. Carolina is coming off a win over Florida State, where they had to overcome a halftime deficit, to earn a regular season sweep of an ACC opponent for the 71st consecutive season. 

Back in early December, Georgia Tech had the look of a team that was going to cause problems in the ACC, after upsetting ranked teams Mississippi State and Duke in the same week. Instead, the Yello Jackets have lost 8 of 9, and are 9-11 on the season, and 2-7 in conference play. Damon Stoudamire is in his first season on the job and has his work cut out for him to make the program competitive again. Miles Kelly leads them in scoring, at over 14 points per game. 

When Carolina traveled to Boston College a few weeks ago, it served as a trap game, as Carolina had a quick turnaround to host Wake Forest. This game takes place before the first game against Duke this season, and Saturday’s matchup will have College GameDay in town, for the top 10 matchup, between the two best teams in the ACC, making this the ultimate trap game. Duke was able to go on the road and win at Virginia Tech on Monday night, Carolina will hope that their experience and leadership won’t allow them to look ahead to Saturday night. 

In a season where ranked teams are losing on the road on a nightly basis, Carolina has remained undefeated away from home and is still the only undefeated team from a power conference in conference play. Here’s how Carolina can avoid the upset bug, and stay undefeated before the biggest game of the season:

  1. Be Ready to Play: It will be a whiteout tonight in McCamish Pavilion, but that doesn’t guarantee that there will be an environment in the arena. Kind of like when UNC travels to Boston College, there will be a nice contingent of UNC fans in attendance, as Carolina is well represented in Atlanta. With that being said, Carolina needs to be ready to go from the tip, not let Georgia Tech build early confidence, and let whatever crowd is in attendance tonight, make an impact. UNC raced out to a 19-8 lead over Florida State on Saturday, and while that lead would eventually wither away, I’m not sure that Georgia Tech could get back into the game if they get down double digits early. 

  2. Contain Miles Kelly: Kelly is arguably the best guard in the conference that nobody knows about because he plays on a bad team. In their upset wins over Mississippi State and Duke, he scored 22 and 16 points respectively. Carolina has done a fantastic job at not letting an opponent’s best player have career days against them. Expect Hubert Davis to use multiple defenders on Kelly to wear him down as the game moves along. If Kelly doesn’t have a big game, it’s hard to envision them competing in this game, let alone winning it. 

  3. Little Things: Carolina turned it over 17 times on Saturday, and would’ve been the biggest reason they lost, had they fallen at FSU. If Carolina struggles to take care of the basketball, if they aren’t efficient from the foul line, or take a step back in the rebounding department, these are all ways that help keep Georgia Tech in the game. Simply put, if Carolina continues to do the little things very well, it only makes Georgia Tech’s uphill climb that much higher. 

Series History: 

  • Carolina is 72-27 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, but they are 23-15, and 17-13 in McCamish Pavilion. Carolina has won the last three in the series, and 12 of the last 15. 


  • North Carolina - 6th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 118.4 (14th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 92.3 (3rd)

  • Georgia Tech - 134 overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.3 (96th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 107.4 (205th)


  • North Carolina - 8th. 

  • Georgia Tech - 134

TV Info: Tonight’s game will tip at 7 PM on ESPN.

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