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December 30, 2013

UNCW-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

The last Saturday of college football came and went this past weekend and the focus of the college sporting world will now slowly turn its collective head over to the hardwood.

The head turn won't be completely complete until the BCS National Championship game concludes on January 6 but this past weekend saw a couple of marquee match-ups signal the oncoming onslaught of huge college basketball games to come.

The Tar Heels continued their "Escape from the Dean Dome" ways against another supposedly inferior non-conference foe in Northern Kentucky. Few could probably tell you what a Norse is and even fewer would have predicted that the game would have been as difficult as it was for the Tar Heels. But at this point, any game involving UNC should have predictions thrown out the window as soon as they're conceived.

Let's take a look at some storylines heading into UNC's next game against UNC Wilmington on Tuesday night.

Keeping It Close

In fairness, UNC has played some pretty decent competition in their non-conference slate this season.

They've taken on the likes of big time programs such as Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and Texas without even stepping foot on the court against an ACC opponent.

However, they've also faced schools like Belmont, UAB, UNC Greensboro and Northern Kentucky. In 12 games so far, UNC has beaten their opponents on average by less than 10 points per game.

This was evident in their game against Northern Kentucky when they were up just five at halftime. Roy Williams was so upset with that first half performance that he was quoted as saying he wished he could have had his team running wind sprints during the break.

"We were not very sharp, to say the least. I probably gave them too much time at Christmas. We played Saturday, let them go and didn't bring them back until 7:00 pm (Thursday) night," said Williams. "We were not sharp, to say the least. And that was a huge part of the game. But at the same time, I don't think we had any intensity and the concentration level that we needed to have. When you added both of those together it makes you miss easy shots or throw the ball who knows? A couple of times we were passing it to each other instead of shooting it, and then all of a sudden it goes out of bounds."

The Heels haven't had a double-digit lead against an opponent in any of their last four games, the last time it happened being against UNC Greensboro.

Getting out to a big lead early can help the Tar Heels put their stamp on the current opponent and remind future foes that they aren't in the midst of a down year, waiting to allow another team to make their name on them.

Switching It Up

The first half didn't do anything to instill confidence in Williams' mind that they would be able to do the things he was hoping they would do. So to start the second half, Williams put Marcus Paige on the court with Luke Davis, Jackson Simmons, Isaiah Hicks and Desmond Hubert.

Never one to get shy about pulling an entire starting line-up at a time, the message was clear to his players: Give the effort or ride the pine.

"I was ticked off," Williams said. "I just wanted to try somebody different. I didn't know what it was.

The assistants on my staff did a great job because what I wanted to do was stay out at halftime and run sprints the entire freaking half. They thought it was not the right thing to do. But, God, I wanted to do that so badly."

Leslie McDonald added three 3-pointers in addition to Paige's three 3-pointers from deep and has added a much-needed element to the Tar Heels offense when he's on the court. If Williams is looking to make another switch, swapping McDonald out for Nate Britt would create driving lanes for other guys on the court and make them more multi-dimensional than their current starting line-up.

James Michael McAdoo

If James Michael McAdoo could hit free throws like Tyler Hansbrough he would stand a very good chance of leading the ACC in scoring at the end of the season.

The game against the Norse was the first one in three contests that he didn't get to the line at least 10 times. He still led the team in scoring but it makes the mind go in crazy places to think how dangerous he could be by having the ability to take on an extra four points per game from the charity stripe.

McAdoo sported a brand new haircut and has been in a brand new role all season. But he hasn't adapted to playing on the wing that quickly and it remains to be seen if that's where he'll remain all year.

UNC Wilmington
(6-8, 0-0)
#19/19 North Carolina
(9-3, 0-0)

Game Day
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Time: 5:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 108/XM 190)
Series: UNC leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Carolina won 96-75 on December 28, 2004 in Chapel Hill

UNC Wilmington at a glance
Location: Wilmington, NC
Nickname: Seahawks
Colors: Teal, Navy & Gold
Conference: CAA
Arena: Trask Coliseum (6,100)
2012-2013 Record: 10-20 (5-13)
Last Game: Lost 75-61 to UNC Asheville on December 28.
More on the Seahawks:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site | Rivals Site

Last starting line-up
(against UNC Asheville)

F - Dylan Sherwood
C - Shane Reybold
G - Freddie Jackson
G - Ben Eblen

G - Addison Spuill

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Cedrick Williams (14.1 PPG) Addison Spuill (12.1 PPG)

Rebounding: Cedrick Williams (7.2) Shane Reybold (6.4 RPG)

Assists: Ben Eblen (3.7 APG) Tanner Milson (1.5 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
Rebounds Per Game: 38.7
Assist Per Game: 11.1
Field Goal Percentage: .411
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .237

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

F - Jame Michael McAdoo
F - J.P. Tokoto
F - Brice Johnson
G - Marcus Paige

G - Nate Britt

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Marcus Paige (18.7 PPG) James Michael McAdoo (14.0 PPG)

Rebounding: Brice Johnson (6.7 RPG) Kennedy Meeks (6.1 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.0 APG) Nate Britt (2.8 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 79.8
Rebounds Per Game: 40.8
Assist Per Game: 15.3
Field Goal Percentage: .470
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .350

Game Notes: UNCW | UNC

With McDonald coming back and getting his legs under him, if they can find ways to keep the senior on the court with McAdoo, they can find more ways to keep McAdoo in his comfort zone and playing at an optimal level.


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