Not only will Carolina be looking for their second consecutive win on Saturday, they’ll be looking to avenge an earlier loss to NC State back in December. NC State defeated the Tar Heels 79-76 in Raleigh to begin ACC play. That loss brought upon a lineup change the following game for Carolina, as their defensive effort in that game was as poor as it could be. Turnovers were also an issue in that game for the young Heels, as the constant pressure applied by the Wolfpack was too much for an inexperienced backcourt to handle.
After starting ACC play 0-2. Carolina has won 4 out 5, and is starting to mold into the team we thought they could be before the season began. Caleb Love is coming off his best game as a Tar Heel, scoring a career best 20 points on 7-12 shooting. The improved play of Love, R.J. Davis off the bench, and the return of Anthony Harris has the backcourt in as good a place all season long.
After that win over Carolina, there was a lot of talk about State potentially factoring into the ACC title race. After that win, they’ve proceeded to lose 3 out of their last 4, including a 32 point loss the last time on the floor against Florida State. The Pack are paced Devon Daniels, and his 15.7 points per game. Jericho Hellems and D.J. Funderburk, who missed the first meeting, are the only players who average double figures scoring for Kevin Keatts’ squad. Shakel Moore had a career game scoring 17 points off the bench.
Going 2-0 this week would do wonders for this team, as it would get them to 10-5 overall, and 5-3 in the ACC. The win over Wake Forest wasn’t pretty, but Carolina had their best shooting half of the season in the second half, which allowed them to prevail. You’re hoping to see Caleb Love and R.J. Davis continues to show improvement, while wanting to get more from Garrison Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe. One thing is for certain, Carolina will have to play a lot better on Saturday, than they did in December:
Turnovers: Carolina committed 18 turnovers in the loss at PNC Arena, as they couldn’t handle the pressure applied by the Pack. State was able to turn those turnovers into easy points in transition. Carolina has been up and down since then, in terms of taking care of the basketball. On Wednesday they only turned it over 12 times, while forcing 20 Demon Deacons turnovers, which they converted into 24 points. The Tar Heels will need another similar performance to avenge the early season loss.
Dominate the Paint: This wasn’t an issue in the loss, but they’ll need a better performance to get the win. State doesn’t have the size or the strength to handle Carolina, even with the return of Funderburk. Even as the guard play is starting to come together, the ball needs to go into the post first. Roy Williams made that clear in his post game after the Wake Forest, so expect a heavy dose of post touches for Carolina’s trio of big men.
3 Point Offense/Defense: With the insertion of Kerwin Walton into the starting lineup, Carolina has started to shoot the ball better from the perimeter. In wins over Miami and Syracuse, they likely wouldn’t have won if not for good outside shooting. With that in mind, they were only 2-12 back in December, while allowing the Pack to go 8-17 from behind the arc. If Carolina can limit the amount of good looks from the perimeter, and sprinkle in some timely shooting, they’ll have a good shot at getting the win.
Series History: In the Smith Center, Carolina is 27-7 against NC State, having won 15 of the last 17 in Chapel Hill. Overall, Carolina is 160-79 against the Pack, and Roy Williams is 32-5 against them since becoming the head coach at UNC.
UNC - 36th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.0 (61st) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.7 (22nd)
NC State - 63rd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.6 (57th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.5 (80th)
UNC - 55th.
NC State - 73rd.
TV Info: The rivalry matchup will air on ESPN, with a 2 pm tip time.
Roy's Boys Podcast: