North Carolina (13-5) at (18) NC State (15-4)
Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: PNC Arena (18,639) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UNC 9-1, NC State 11-0. Away Record: UNC 2-3, NC State 1-3. Neutral Record: UNC 2-1, NC State 3-1. Conference Record: UNC 3-2, NC State 4-2. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 147-75.
GAME NOTES: Local rivals collide in Atlantic Coast Conference action as the North Carolina Tar Heels make the short trip to Raleigh on Saturday looking for an upset of the 18th-ranked NC State Wolfpack.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels aren't considered a real threat to win the national title this season, but the team has kept itself within striking distance in the ACC standings, with wins in each of the last three games. UNC is now 13-5 overall and 3-2 in league play, and enters this contest off an impressive 79-63 win over Georgia Tech this week.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack came into the season with much more hype and for the most part have lived up to it, including knocking off Duke a couple of weeks ago. However, NC State has hit a wall of sorts recently, with losses in two of their last three games. Monday's 86-84 setback to Wake Forest dropped the Wolfpack to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in-conference. NC State is a perfect 11-0 in Raleigh this season.
North Carolina owns a 147-75 advantage all-time against NC State and has won each of the last 13 meetings and 19 of the last 20 overall.
Despite Georgia Tech hauling in a whopping 50 rebounds, it was unable to take advantage, as UNC held the Yellow Jackets to a mere .360 shooting percentage and committed a mere eight fouls in the game. Reggie Bullock led three Tar Heels in double figures in the win, posting 17 points. P.J. Hairston followed with 15 points, while James Michael McAdoo just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Tar Heels won't be at full strength in this game, as guard Leslie McDonald (8.4 ppg) is serving a three-game suspension. However, with a squad that is averaging 78.7 ppg (15th nationally), there is certainly enough firepower to assuage the loss. While McAdoo was touted as an All-American candidate coming in and has not really found that kind of consistency yet, the 6-foot-9 sophomore is leading the team in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) this season. Bullock (14.3 ppg) is a close second in the scoring column, while Hairston (11.9 ppg) has done most of his damage off the bench. Dexter Strickland (7.9 ppg) and Marcus Paige (6.7 ppg) aren't prolific scorers, but they are both solid distributors, combining for 147 assists thus far.
It certainly wasn't a lack of scoring that did in the Wolfpack this week in Winston-Salem. NC State just let one slip away after taking a 12-point lead into halftime. After shooting 55.6 percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes, NC State lost its touch in the second half (41.2 percent). Rodney Purvis led five players in double figures in the loss with 18 points. T.J. Warren came off the bench to tally 14, while C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown all finished with 13. Howell (16 rebounds) and Brown (10 assists) both recorded double-doubles.
The shooting woes in the second half were a bit of an anomaly for a team that ranks third nationally in field-goal percentage (.510). The Wolfpack are averaging just under 80 points per game and boast of five players averaging double digits, led by Leslie's 15.3 ppg. Brown is an All-American candidate at the point, with the ability to both score (12.8 ppg) and distribute (6.9 apg) at high rates. Howell (12.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg) is the perfect low post complement, ranking second in the ACC and 12th nationally in rebounding. Warren (12.2 ppg) and Scott (11.7 ppg) provide even more options.
The Wolfpack aren't built for prolonged slides, and will certainly be motivated to bounce back, especially with the Tar Heels coming to town. UNC is starting to find its groove, but in the ACC, things can change in a hurry.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 77, North Carolina 73
01/26 10:31:54 ET