FACTS & STATS: Site: Smith Center (21,450) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television: Fox Sports South. Home Record: Lipscomb 0-0, North Carolina 0-0. Away Record: Lipscomb 0-0, North Carolina 0-0. Neutral Record: Lipscomb 0-0, North Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: Lipscomb 0-0, North Carolina 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels begin a season of redemption this evening, as they play host to the Lipscomb Bisons in the 2010-11 season-opener for both squads.
Scott Sanderson's Bisons come into this season with plenty of optimism. All five starters return from a team that went 17-13 last season, while capturing the Atlantic Sun regular season title, with a 14-6 league ledger (tied for first).
Roy Williams' Tar Heels are not trying to build off a strong season, but rather put the 2010-11 campaign in their rearview mirror. North Carolina did post 20 victories, but inconsistent play was apparent with 17 losses and a 5-11 ACC mark is simply unacceptable in Chapel Hill. The team failed to earn an NCAA Tournament berth, but did make it all the way to the NIT championship game before losing to Dayton.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
The Bisons earned a share of the A-Sun regular-season title last season but failed to capture the tourney title and have still yet to make a trip to the NCAA Tournament. With all five starters back this season, that could change, Leading the way is the dynamic duo of Adnan Hodzic and Josh Slater. The reigning A-Sun Player of the Year, Hodzic is a 6-8, 245-pound senior that ranked second in the nation in scoring (22.7 ppg) and second in the league in rebounding (9.1 rpg). Slater was no slouch either, as he did it all with 17.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 5.2 apg. Add in Brandon Brown (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Jordan Burgason (12.8 ppg) to the mix and its obvious why Lipscomb is the favorite in the A-Sun.
Like most year's North Carolina is faced with loss, as star power has yet again moved on. Ed Davis and Deon Thompson are now gone and while that would hurt most teams, UNC is not your average team and the cupboard is anything but bare. In fact, this year's team is chock-full of potential and the new faces are primed for greatness. The backcourt features veterans Larry Drew II (8.5 ppg, 6.0 apg) and Will Graves (9.8 ppg, team-high 73 three-pointers), while Parade All-American Reggie Bullock's sweet stroke will demand he get extended minutes on the floor. The frontcourt will be comprised of seven-footer Tyler Zeller (9.3 ppg), 6-10 sophomore John Henson (5.7 ppg) and a pair of newcomers in 6-9 Alabama transfer Justin Knox and 6-7 freshman Harrison Barnes. Regarded as the nation's top incoming freshman, Barnes has the ability to do it all on the floor. The question won't be if Barnes lives up to expectations, but how long will he remain in Chapel Hill before taking his talent to the NBA. He was recently named to the AP Preseason All-American list, the first freshman to do so since the inception of the list in 1986.
The UNC faithful have a lot to be excited about this season and the debut of Barnes certainly is a big part of it. This is a North Carolina team itching to prove it belongs back among the national elite. The team will get a nice warmup in that regard with the Bisons.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 91, Lipscomb 53
11/12 10:37:30 ET
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