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December 20, 2013

Davidson-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview
UNC hasn't quite turned the corner yet.

After defeating three top 25 teams in Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky, with all three of those games coming under different circumstances (on the road, at home or at a neutral site), it appeared the Heels had become a team that could play with anybody.

Now it appears they can only play well against teams their expected to lose to. Sort of.

UNC dropped a home game against the unranked Texas Longhorns Wednesday night 86-83 and did it in familiar fashion. The loss, on the surface, doesn't appear as bad as the losses to Belmont and UAB, two other games that were unexpectedly lost by the Tar Heels.

However, the loss to the Longhorns underscores a slightly more concerning issue.

With that, let's take a look at some storylines heading into Saturday's game against Davidson.

What Kind Of Team Is This?

It's easy to chalk up the losses to UAB and Belmont as games the Tar Heels just didn't take seriously enough. The loss to Texas says something different about this team.

It says this team is simply inconsistent as a whole. Texas isn't a school with a low profile. They are a national program with a wide reaching brand that came into Chapel Hill for a midweek match-up that should have been circled on the calendar by every player in the offseason as one of the marquee match-up's of the non-conference schedule.

Instead, the players showed the same lack of focus in the Longhorn's game as they have in other less than stellar performances against teams that don't stand out nearly as much on the schedule.

It's concerning because this doesn't mean the Heels are looking past anybody, rather their concentration can come and go at a moment's notice.

Roy Williams has put his team on notice that this type of play won't be tolerated. He ripped into his team publicly after their loss to UAB and that appeared to spark a fire under the players in their next time out.

He had a fired up quote after the game against Texas that echoes those earlier sentiments.

"I am not happy guys. I am not in the daggum Christmas spirit. If you want to really know how ticked off I am, I told them we would practice at midnight tonight," said Williams. "And then I told them I better check the NCAA rules so we cannot practice at midnight tonight. We cannot practice until 5 a.m.

And everybody's (butt) will be in here at 5 a.m. this morning."

Free Throws

Anyone who's watched a game this year knows that UNC has struggled at the line this season. The charity stripe was closed for the Heels on Wednesday as they missed 23 free throws and shot just 51 percent in that area.

For Williams, the matter comes down to mental toughness.

"I'm not very pleased with our intensity, with our effort or with our concentration," head coach Roy Williams said. "I thought it was just ridiculous in the first half. (In the) second half we tried harder, but you have to be tough enough to step up and take shots. I'm tired of talking about free throws, you have to be tough enough to step up the dag'on thing or go play soccer. Tell Anson (Dorrance) I'm not trying to bag on his sport, but God almighty."

Marcus Paige was perfect from the line (8-8), but that only highlights a point Williams made earlier in the week on his radio show. He expressed concern that UNC's opponents would eventually find a way to make sure Paige didn't get to the line and would force his teammates to make their shots.

That they didn't.

If you take away Paige's percentages and makes, the rest of the squad shot just 41 percent. That obviously won't get it done and it remains to be seen if this issue can be fixed.

If it can the Heels can go far. If it isn't, this will likely be the Achilles heel that ends their season at some point.

Leslie McDonald

Leslie McDonald got his first action of the season as he returned from suspension against Texas. He logged 22 minutes and scored 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He didn't do a great job hitting his free throws (3-8) but did knock down four 3-pointers.

McDonald is going to need some time to get his legs under him so that he can get up and down the court but his offensive firepower is much needed and coming at a great time.

(4-7, 0-0)
#14/18 North Carolina
(7-3, 0-0)

Game Day
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Time: 5:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 92/XM 190)
Series: UNC leads 61-11
Last Meeting: Carolina won 72-68 on November 14, 2007 at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte

Davidson at a glance
Location: Davidson, NC
Nickname: Wildcats
Colors: Red & Black
Conference: Southern
Arena: Belk Arena (5,223)
2012-2013 Record: 26-8 (17-1)
Last Game: Lost 72-58 to Drexel on December 15.
More on the Wildcats:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site | Rivals Site

Last starting line-up
(against Drexel)

F - Jake Belford
F - Andrew McAuliffe
G - Brian Sullivan
G - Tyler Kalinoski

G - Chris Czerpowicz

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: De'Mon Brooks (16.8 PPG) Tom Droney (13.1 PPG)

Rebounding: De'Mon Brooks (6.4) Tyler Kalinoski (6.0 RPG)

Assists: Tyler Kalinoski (3.4 APG) Brian Sullivan (2.2 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
Rebounds Per Game: 32.2
Assist Per Game: 11.3
Field Goal Percentage: .429
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .286

North Carolina at a glance
Last starting line-up
(against Texas)

F - Jame Michael McAdoo
F - J.P. Tokoto
F - Joel James
G - Marcus Paige

G - Nate Britt

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Marcus Paige (19.2 PPG) Leslie McDonald (15.0 PPG)

Rebounding: Brice Johnson (7.1 RPG) Kennedy Meeks (6.3 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.1 APG) Nate Britt (2.8 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 78.5
Rebounds Per Game: 40.6
Assist Per Game: 15.0
Field Goal Percentage: .468
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .330

Game Notes: Davidson | UNC

That he could get up 15 points in his first game back says a lot about his time spent away from the court and what he's been doing to stay ready.

It should be interesting to see if this type of game will be the norm for McDonald because if it is, he

finally allows some breathing room for Paige and gives the Tar Heels a much needed wing presence.


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