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December 12, 2013

UK-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

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 schools.

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 Development

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 radio show.

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.

Complete UNC Game Notes

#11/10 Kentucky
(8-2, 0-0)
#18/21 North Carolina
(6-2, 0-0)

Game Day
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Time: 5:15 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 137/XM 194)
Series: UNC leads 22-13
Last Meeting: Kentucky topped UNC 73-72 on December 3, 2011 in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky at a glance
Location: Lexington, Ky
Nickname: Wildcats
Colors: Blue & White
Conference: SEC
Arena: Rupp Arena (23,500)
2012-2013 Record: 21-12 (12-6)
Last Game: W 70-55 over Boise State in Lexington on December 10.
More on the Wildcats:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site | Rivals Site

Last starting line-up
(against Boise State)

F - Willie Cauley-Stein
F - Julius Randle
G - James Young
G - Aaron Harrison

G - Andrew Harrison

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Julius Randle (17.8 PPG) James Young (13.9 PPG)

Rebounding: Julius Randle (12.0) Willie Cauley-Stein (7.7 RPG)

Assists: Andrew Harrison (3.5 APG) Julius Randle (2.2 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
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
(against UNCG)

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)

Rebounding: Brice Johnson (6.9 RPG) Kennedy Meeks (6.6 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.5 APG) J.P. Tokoto (2.6 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 77.5
Rebounds Per Game: 41.5
Assist Per Game: 15.9
Field Goal Percentage: .478
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .299



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