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February 25, 2014

UNC-NCSU Preview

Basketball Preview

UNC's basketball continued to extend their winning streak as that number reached nine with their victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Saturday afternoon.

With the win, UNC pulled within a half game of passing Duke in the ACC standings. These last four games will help determine whether they can achieve the double-bye in the ACC tournament or not. It will also help increase their seed in the NCAA tournament once March rolls around.

But Roy Williams and the Tar Heel players can't look too far ahead because they have another big rivalry game to take care of in the middle of the week when they play N.C. State in Raleigh on Wednesday.

The Heels previously defeated the Wolfpack and will walk into a hostile crowd looking for a measure of revenge. If they can stay focused and keep playing the way they've been playing they should walk away victorious but they will have to contend with the ACC's leading scorer T.J. Warren to get the win.

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

Helping The Rotation

For a little bit it looked as though Williams was shortening his rotation and was only going to rely on a handful of players to carry the entire team.

Then all of a sudden he started getting better contributions from Desmond Hubert off the bench and has given back some minutes to Nate Britt who spent the first part of the season in the starting line-up but was replaced in favor of Leslie McDonald.

The Wake Forest game was never really close which allowed four guys to come off the bench and receive double-digit minutes. That gave guys like Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo some much needed rest after the amount of minutes they've logged all year long.

No one guy other than Brice Johnson has consistently come off the bench and been given substantial minutes but at least one other person, whether it's Hubert, Britt or Joel James seems to eventually enter the game and energize the team, even in brief stretches.

Winning games is the obvious priority for a number of reasons in these last four games. UNC wants to keep a spot in the top four of the ACC standings so they can skip the first two days of the ACC tournament. That cuts down on the number of games needed to win the title and also cuts down on the number of minutes in back-to-back days that Williams' players need to play before going into the bigger tournament later in March.

Finding a second or third body that can consistently spell the starters is a key priority over the last few weeks of the season.

T.J. Warren

The ACC's leading scorer T.J. Warren has only scored below double figures once all season long.

He's only scored below 20 points four times. Since being held out against Maryland on January 20 he hasn't shot below 50 percent in any of his games.

Williams says that UNC will have to have one of their better defensive games of the season if they want to contain Warren and looking at those numbers above, that might be an understatement.

Warren scored 21 against the Tar Heels on February 1 and that was a tame performance when looking at the 27, 34, 23, 20 and 30 point outings he's had in the five games since. The assignment to shutdown Warren will likely fall on J.P. Tokoto's shoulders.

Tokoto fouled out of the first meeting with N.C. State and fans should hope he's learned his lesson this time around. The assignment only gets harder when Warren is playing at home.

Something to pay attention to is whether or not Williams will break out the 1-3-1 zone to try and keep Warren out of the paint. It worked well against Duke, a much better shooting team, and could give N.C. State problems if they can't break down the Heels defense and get in the paint.

Playing In Raleigh

N.C. State has played only one home game in the month of February. That game was an 82-67 drubbing of Wake Forest on February 11, a full 15 days prior to the game Wednesday night against UNC.

It's a safe bet that the fans in Raleigh will be rearing to go and UNC will likely face an atmosphere that rivals the one they had in store for Duke on Thursday night in Chapel Hill. If they don't come prepared to play, if Warren gets going early and the crowd stays into it, UNC could get run off the court.

But focus has been a problem that seems to have gotten addressed and corrected over the course of the current winning streak. Regardless, the environment in which they'll have to play should be a fun one and will be a nice way to break up the workweek for both team's fan bases.

N.C. State
(17-10, 7-7)
vs.
#19/21 North Carolina
(20-7, 10-4)

Game Day
Date:
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Venue: PNC Arena (19,700)
TV: ACC Network

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 135/XM 193)
Series: UNC leads the all-time series with N.C. State, 149-76.
Last Meeting: North Carolina beat N.C. State, 84-70, on February 1, in Chapel Hill.

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 Virginia Tech, 71-64, in Blacksburg on Saturday.
More on the Wolfpack:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site | Rivals Site

Last starting line-up
(against Virginia Tech)


C - Jordan Vandenberg
F - T.J. Warren
F - Kyle Washington
G - Tyler Lewis

G - Ralston Tunrner

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: T.J. Warren (23.3 PPG) Ralston Tunrner (10.2PPG)

Rebounding: T.J. Warren (7.1 RPG) Lennard Freeman (5.6 RPG)

Assists: Anthony Barber (3.7 APG) Tyler Lewis (3.5 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
70.4
Rebounds Per Game: 35.1
Assist Per Game: 12.6
Field Goal Percentage: .456
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .294

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

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

G - Marcus Paige

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Marcus Paige (16.9 PPG) James Michael McAdoo (14.4 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (6.9 RPG) Brice Johnson (6.4 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.6 APG) J.P. Tokoto (2.9 APG)

Team Statistics
P
oints Per Game: 77.0
Rebounds Per Game: 40.9
Assist Per Game: 15.9
Field Goal Percentage: .463
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .336

Game Notes: NCSU | UNC

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