Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC has put together its third two-game winning streak of the
season heading into one of its most talked about and anticipated
non-conference games this year. The Tar Heels will host Kentucky
Saturday and with it comes another chance to prove that they are
a legit contender.
Two early season losses against teams they weren't expected to
lose to have been stymied by two huge wins against teams that never
saw the Heels coming. They'll be coming off a week's worth of rest
and after putting exams in the rearview mirror, the Wildcats will
have the entire city of Chapel Hill's attention come tipoff time.
Without further ado, here are some storyline to pay attention to
heading into the game.
What does this game mean exactly?
What does it prove, for either team, if they win?
For starters, it's obviously a big feather in the cap come
Selection Sunday. It also gives each team a chance to brag for one
more year in a game that has become a traditional event for both
But it isn't quite as meaningful under the surface as you might
think, especially for UNC according to Roy Williams.
Nowadays it's not as important as it was five years ago, 10 years
ago, 20 years ago because those times you didn't see these kinds of
matchups," said Williams. "Now with the tournaments going on you see
these kinds of matchups and exempt events or special one-day events
or two-day events, you see a lot of those things. So to me it's
still important, but it's not like it used to be.
"It used to be the first Saturday in December and you knew North
Carolina and Kentucky were going to play. Well, now we've already
played Louisville and Michigan State," said Williams. "Kentucky has
already played Michigan State."
Even if the game isn't the one and only big non-conference game
on the agenda for either team, it still will have a huge game feel
as it gets a featured time slot on a big network where the whole
nation will be watching on a Saturday without any major college
football games on.
No matter what Williams says, this game is huge.
Not Back Yet
There was some speculation before any games got under way that
the suspensions of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald would be over just in time for the Kentucky game.
That's quite clearly not the case.
In any event, the Heels have been pretty good without them (at
times). They still need a shooter to take over and pick up the load
that Marcus Paige has been carrying from beyond the arc.
But those two not being in the line-up has allowed this team to have
a clearly defined leader in Paige, something that will be best for
them in the long run.
Paige has accounted for 87 percent of UNC's made 3-pointers and
the Heels rank dead last among major college programs in made
3-pointers per game.
Look for Williams to maybe switch things up as he continues to
get a line-up that can serve all needs of the team.
Kennedy Meeks Continued
It doesn't appear that Meeks is going
too inserted into the starting line-up until he can be more
consistently on the defensive end.
That was the message assistant coach C.B. McGrath
delivered when he filled in for Williams during Monday's weekly
The biggest improvement in Meeks' game has been his ability to
get up and down the court. He's not just in better shape, which is
obvious to anyone who saw his senior year of high school basketball,
but that he's getting into his lanes and being in the right position
at all times.
Offensively, Meeks is one of the better big men in basketball at
moving without the basketball. He's constantly setting a screen at
the right time, posting at the right time and making the right pass
at the right time. He's always active on offense and never makes a
movement that hurts them.
As he continues to develop his body and defensive prowess for
this level, he could be one the most talked about players in the ACC
by season's end.
Kentucky at a glance Location: Lexington, Ky Nickname:
Blue & White Conference:
Rupp Arena (23,500) 2012-2013 Record:
(12-6) Last Game:
W 70-55 over Boise State in Lexington on December 10. More on the Wildcats: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Willie Cauley-Stein F - Julius Randle G - James Young
G - Aaron Harrison G - Andrew Harrison
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Julius
PPG) James Young (13.9 PPG)
Rebounding: Julius Randle (12.0)
Willie Cauley-Stein (7.7 RPG)
Assists: Andrew Harrison
APG) Julius Randle (2.2 APG)
Points Per Game: 80.8 Rebounds Per Game: 44.3 Assist Per Game: 12.9 Field Goal Percentage: .482 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .325
North Carolina at a glance Last starting line-up
F - Jame Michael McAdoo F - J.P. Tokoto F - Joel James
G - Marcus Paige G - Nate Britt
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Marcus Paige (18.8 PPG)
Brice Johnson (13.6 PPG)
Johnson (6.9 RPG) Kennedy Meeks (6.6 RPG)
(4.5 APG) J.P. Tokoto (2.6 APG)
Points Per Game:
77.5 Rebounds Per Game: 41.5 Assist Per Game: 15.9 Field Goal Percentage: .478 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .299