GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels seek a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Davidson Wildcats to the Dean E. Smith Center for a Saturday evening showdown between instate rivals.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels once again imploded in an 86-83 loss to Texas on Wednesday, falling to 7-3 in the process. North Carolina has recorded huge wins over powerhouses Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky. However, inconsistency has been the theme, with losses to Belmont, UAB and most recently, the Longhorns.
Unfortunately for Bob McKillop's Wildcats, they may not be able to take advantage of UNC's current plight, as Davidson has struggled in its own right to a mere 4-7 overall mark. The Wildcats bring a two-game slide into this contest, having lost to Niagara (83-72) and Drexel (72-58) in the last 10 days.
North Carolina has won four straight meetings with Davidson and has dominated the series all-time, boasting of a 61-11 series lead.
Davidson won 26 games last year and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. That might as well be an eon ago, considering the Wildcats' struggles this year. The team's major problem has been at the defensive end, where opponents have run through the Davidson defense like a turnstyle, averaging 80.4 ppg on just over 50 percent efficiency from the floor. That has really negated anything good at the offensive end, where Davidson is averaging 75.0 ppg. Senior forward De'Mon Brooks headlines the Davidson attack, leading the team in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). The three-guard set of Tom Droney (13.1 ppg), Brian Sullivan (12.5 ppg) and Tyler Kalinoski (10.8 ppg) rounds out the top scorers on the roster.
The Wildcats shot a dreadful .269 from the floor in the first half and trailed Drexel by 10 points at halftime (37-27). They were unable to gain ground after the break in a 14-point loss to the Dragons. Sullivan led the team with 14 points in the loss. Kalinoski had a strong outing as well, recording a double- double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Jordan Barham came off the bench to tally 11 points, but the remainder of the roster managed a combined 20 points total.
Marcus Paige netted a game-high 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but it wasn't enough in UNC's three-point loss to the Longhorns this week. Leslie McDonald played his first game of the season and looked good, adding 15 points, thanks in large part to four 3-pointers. James Michael McAdoo added 11 point to the cause, but also hurt his team by going just 5-of-15 from the free-throw line. The charity stripe is where this game was decided, as the Tar Heels did themselves in with an ugly 24-of-47 performance from the charity stripe.
Having McDonald back on the floor should be a huge plus for the Tar Heels as ACC play quickly approaches. Who the team will not get back is star guard P.J. Hairston, who had not suited up all season long and will not play again for North Carolina, the school announced on Friday. North Carolina comes into this game averaging a steady 78.5 ppg, despite the free-throw line presenting a major stumbling block. The team is converting just under 60 percent of its charity tosses. Paige has been the only reliable player in that regard, connecting on 52-of-57 free-throw attempts (.912), while leading the team in scoring at 19.6 ppg. McAdoo adds 13.5 ppg to the mix, but has been dreadful from the line, considering how often he gets there (49-of-90). Brice Johnson (12.3 ppg) has been a spark off the bench for UNC all season long.
Converting free throws shouldn't play a factor in this game, as Davidson simply doesn't match up well with the Tar Heels here. With the whole Hairston debacle now resolved, the Tar Heels known what they have going forward.
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