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January 30, 2014

NCSU-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

Assuming UNC has made it back through the Atlanta gridlock that was caused by the two inches of snow from the netherworld, the Tar Heels will host their rivals from Raleigh Saturday afternoon as the N.C. State Wolfpack come to town.

The Heels are coming off a 78-65 dark match house show against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a game that few can say will be etched in their memories after the weather relegated the game to the internet.

UNC now has its first winning streak of 2014 and will look to make it three in a row as they attempt to pull themselves further up the conference standings.

Let's take a look at some of the storylines heading into Saturday's game.

Fueling The Wins

When James Michael McAdoo plays well the Tar Heels win more often than not. It's easy to say that UNC's best player, Marcus Paige, is the key to their success but the stats suggest otherwise.

In UNC's last four wins, McAdoo has averaged almost 20 points per game while hauling in 7 rebounds per game. He's shot nearly 68 percent in those wins and was aggressive to the basket in all those games as well. When McAdoo wants to get to the rim there are few defenders that can stop him.

He's good for one or two plays that energizes his teammates and when those plays don't come, UNC usually plays at a much more lethargic pace.

Emerging Stars

Another guy that has gotten it going lately is Kennedy Meeks. The big man is becoming less of a big man as he slims his body down. He's getting up and down the court at a much better pace than at the beginning of the season and in the last two outings has played 26 minutes, both career highs.

Meeks' multi-faceted game helps define the roles of the other guys around him. When he plays in the low post it allows McAdoo to roam at the top of the key, opening up driving lanes for his frontcourt mate along with 15-foot jump shots, gives Paige a solid pick-and-roll buddy and forces guys to focus on him down low and giving Leslie McDonald to shoot outside.

His long outlet passes give Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto easy baskets that reward their efforts on defense (something that should help keep Johnson motivated on that end of the floor) and his low-post moves are a thing of beauty when he gets it going.

It seems like just a matter of time before he gains enough explosiveness to where he isn't getting his shot blocked, but the head fakes and techniques he's developed while being underdeveloped physically will serve him well when he adds the athleticism he needs to dominate.

Meeks' nine points against Georgia Tech snapped his three-game streak of double-digits but the freshman made up for it by grabbing 10 rebounds, just his second double-digit rebounding effort of the year.

He'll go against a bruiser in N.C. State's Jordan Vandenberg who is a fellow sneaky athlete that has lost a significant amount of weight. This could be the game where Meeks can make a name for himself in the national discussion and become a breakout star in the ACC.

Stopping T.J. Warren

If you want to stop the ACC's leading scorer T.J. Warren, getting him in foul trouble is a good way to start. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot you can do to stop him from getting his points.

The Wolfpack don't have a ton of offensive options so they give Warren free reign to take as many shots as he wants. Attacking Warren when he's on defense is a way to shut him down enough to get some spurts going and put the game away early.

Tokoto should be tasked with getting aggressive. The entire UNC team should look to drive past Warren whenever possible and try to take advantage of those hand-checking fouls that suddenly disappeared once conference play started. This would be a good time to force some calls.

It's also an opportunity for Tokoto to show he can the one-on-one stopper Roy Williams believes he can be. The Tokoto-Warren match-up is the one fans should be most excited about heading into this one.

N.C. State
(14-7, 4-4)
North Carolina
(13-7, 3-4)

Game Day
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 108/XM 191)
Series: UNC leads, 148-76 (UNC is 72-22 vs. NCSU in Chapel Hill, including 22-5 in the Smith Center)
Last Meeting: UNC won 76-65 on February 23, 2013, at the Smith Center.

2013-2014 ACC Standings

N.C. State at a glance
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
Nickname: Wolfpack
Colors: Red & White
Conference: ACC
Arena: PNC Arena (19,700)
2012-2013 Record: 24-11 (11-7)
Last Game: N.C. State beat Florida State, 74-70, on Wednesday night in Raleigh.
More on the Wolfpack:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site | Rivals Site

Last starting line-up
(against Florida State)

F - T.J. Warren
F - Kyle Washington
C - James Vandenberg
G - Anthony Barber

G - Ralston Turner

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: T.J. Warren (22.5 PPG) Anthony Barber (10.8 PPG)

Rebounding: T.J. Warren (7.3 RPG) Leonard Freeman (5.9 RPG)

Assists: Anthony Barber (4.2 APG) Tyler Lewis (3.0 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
Rebounds Per Game: 35.8
Assist Per Game: 13.0
Field Goal Percentage: .463
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .293

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

F - James Michael McAdoo
F - J.P. Tokoto
F - Kennedy Meeks
G - Leslie McDonald

G - Marcus Paige

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Marcus Paige (16.8 PPG) James Michael McAdoo (14.9 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (6.4 RPG) Brice Johnson (6.3 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.4 APG) J.P. Tokoto (2.6 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 75.6
Rebounds Per Game: 40.8
Assist Per Game: 15.9
Field Goal Percentage: .458
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .319

Game Notes: NCSU | UNC



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