By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Smith Center (21,750) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: McNeese State 5-0, UNC 5-0. Away Record:
McNeese State 1-3, UNC 1-2. Neutral Record: McNeese State 0-0, UNC 2-1.
Conference Record: McNeese State 0-0, UNC 0-0. Series Record: First-ever
GAME NOTES: The 23rd-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels return home to the Smith
Center on Saturday afternoon to play host to the McNeese State Cowboys in non-
After winning its opener over Louisiana College (72-54), McNeese State
suffered a three-game losing streak, but it has bounced back beautifully in
recent weeks by notching five straight wins. After logging impressive
victories over Louisiana (77-72) and Louisiana Tech (80-72) earlier in the
month, the Cowboys went on the road on Dec. 16 and shocked Texas Tech, 80-75,
for their first-ever win over a Big 12 Conference program.
North Carolina opened the season with wins in each of its first five games,
but went through a mini-slide by dropping two of three to Butler (82-71) and
No. 1 Indiana (83-59). The Tar Heels kicked off the month of December with a
perfect 3-0 homestand, but their standing among the nation's top-25 in the
next poll has been put in question following an uninspiring 85-67 loss at
Texas on Wednesday night.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's
McNeese State trailed by nine points at Texas Tech midway through the second
half, but it went on a 21-7 run to take a five-point lead with 6:38 to play,
and it would never surrender that advantage as it held on for the outstanding
road win. The Cowboys shot an impressive 55.9 percent from the field, which
helped overcome 20 turnovers. Craig McFerrin came off the bench to shoot 8-
of-11 from the floor for 18 points. Kevin Hardy and Ledrick Eackles each
scored 13 points, while Desharick Guidry added 12 points and six rebounds.
McNeese State is averaging 69.6 ppg on the season behind 45.5 percent field
goal efficiency, but it has not been nearly as successful from 3-point range
(.298). McFerrin has only appeared in two games but he has made a lasting
impression with 16.0 ppg. Guidry has been a reliable presence in the low post
with 13.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 1.0 bpg. Dontae Cannon (12.6 ppg) and Hardy (10.8
ppg) each hand out at least four assists per contest, while Jeremie Mitchell
rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 10.6 ppg.
In a sluggish effort at both ends of the court on Wednesday, UNC trailed wire-
to-wire in the 18-point loss to Texas, shooting a low 31.3 percent from the
floor in the process (including 3-of-19 from 3-point range). Rising above the
rest of his teammates was Reggie Bullock, who netted 18 points while pulling
down a career-high 13 rebounds. James Michael McAdoo barely missed a double-
double with 14 points and nine boards, while also adding six assists. The Tar
Heels' poor performance was more the exception than the rule this season, as
they are making 45.3 percent of their field goal attempts for an average of
82.8 ppg, the latter stat ranking in the top-10 nationally. McAdoo has been
one of the ACC's best forwards, tallying 15.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 1.7 spg, all
while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor. Bullock adds 12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg and
3.2 apg while converting a lofty 45.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the
arc (24-of-53). P.J. Hairston (11.4 ppg) has been an effective sixth man, and
Dexter Strickland (8.9 ppg) runs the point and leads the team in both assists
(4.6 apg) and steals (1.9 spg).
Through the first month and a half of the season, it doesn't appear that UNC
is the dominant team it has proven to be in the past, but it is still plenty
good enough to take care of most non-conference opponents on its home floor.
McNeese State will likely be a player in the Southland Conference, but taking
down the Tar Heels on the road is a test it simply isn't ready for just yet.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 86, McNeese State 69