Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC bounced back nicely from their first loss of the year
when they defeated the Richmond Spiders 82- 72. The win was
sparked by career highs from
Marcus Paige and
Brice Johnson while shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc.
This might not be the most talented team UNC's ever put on the
court (which is a testament to the talent level of past teams) but
they do have an emerging star in Paige.
They'll need him to continue his ascent up the ACC scoring charts
and if he can become "The Man" it may allow UNC's coaching staff to
put to rest all of the questions about
P.J. Hairston (as it pertains to on-court issues).
While the win over Richmond was huge, the Tar Heels will now take
on the defending national champs in about as big an early season
test you'll ever see.
Here are some storylines to pay attention to heading into
Hairston might eventually make it back on the court this season
but he might be hard pressed to get the ball out of Paige's hands.
Whether they leave Paige in the starting line-up and shift him to
the point guard position, Paige has earned his keep and the right to
take as many shots as he'd like.
The thing that stood out most about Paige last season had nothing
to do with his on-court performance.
His demeanor was always even-keeled and he spoke like a man wise
beyond his years.
Roy Williams raved about him, even during games where he didn't
That determined attitude was clearly put to work during the
offseason and it's showing up in Paige's stats. He's shooting 44
percent from behind the 3-point (34 percent last season), 48 percent
from the field (35 percent last season), 88 percent from the line
(83 percent last season) and is averaging 18 points per game (8 last
Paige brought the ball up the court more against Richmond than he
has all season long and indicates that Williams is more comfortable
letting his "tough little nut" handle the rock as often as possible.
He's the guy that's most likely to create his shot and it doesn't
look like this hot streak is going to end anytime soon.
It will be a battle between point guards as Paige will go
head-to-head with the senior leader of the Cardinals
Taking over from Peyton Siva as the full-time point main, Smith
is averaging 18 points per game this year but most of that average
comes off the strength of the 51 points he put up in the first two
games of the season.
Since that two-game stretch Smith has only averaged 11 points per
game and shot less than 40 percent in two of those games. You could
say he's struggling but it would be smart to assume he's due for an
explosion on a national stage against a team like UNC.
Smith is averaging 5 fewer minutes than he did last year but at
this point it's likely because the Cardinals are blowing everyone
out. This game should be the stiffest test they've play thus far and
he probably won't take any unnecessary breathers in this one.
Look for Paige and Smith to run the ball up the court early and
often and get the tempo going.
Get used to seeing these two teams go at it. They'll be
conference rivals soon enough.
Williams and Louisville coach
Rick Pitino are tied for seventh in Final Four appearances with
both legendary coaches making seven trips to the big dance in March.
Between them, they've won three of the last 10 national
championships. When you add in Syracuse and Duke's national titles,
current, future and soon to be ex-ACC teams have accounted for seven
of the last 15 national titles.
This early season match-up is a nice tune-up for UNC as they
prepare to play this type of schedule every year. With a big game
against Kentucky in a couple weeks to go along with this one, a
young team still finding its way should have all the experience it
needs heading into conference play. It's up to them to make it
vs. #19/24 North Carolina
Louisville at a glance Location: Louisville,
Red & Black Conference:
American Athletic Arena:
KFC Yum! Center (22,000) 2012-2013 Record:
(17-4) Last Game:
W 71-57 over Fairfield on Saturday to earn trip to finals of Hall of
Fame Tipoff. More on the Cardinals: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Montrezl Harrell F - Stephan Van Tresse G - Russ Smith
G - Chris Jones G - Wayne Blackshear