Boston College-North Carolina Preview
North Carolina keeps on winning even though its shots aren't falling.
That might again not be an issue when the No. 2 Tar Heels host last-place Boston College on Saturday, thought it could loom large in the very near future.
North Carolina (18-2, 7-0 ACC) remains unbeaten in league play despite a six-game stretch in which it's made 20.8 percent of its 3-point attempts. The Tar Heels have shot 38.0 percent overall in the last three of their 11-game winning streak, averaging 75.0 points in that span - well below their season mark of 85.7 that's among the best in the country.
''I was not concerned, but now I can be concerned because three games in a row is enough,'' coach Roy Williams said following Sunday's 75-70 victory at Virginia Tech, where the Tar Heels shot a season-low 37.8 percent and went 3 of 23 on 3-pointers. ''You've got to be able to step up and make some shots. For the most part, I liked our shots, but they didn't go in, so I didn't like the result.''
Marcus Paige's offensive woes have been the most alarming. The senior guard, the school's all-time leader with 250 made 3-pointers, has gone 1 for 22 from beyond the arc in the last four games while totaling 15 points.
North Carolina will have one more chance to fix its struggles before Monday's showdown at No. 16 Louisville, the ACC's top defensive team that's right behind the Tar Heels in the standings.
They'll probably be able to get away with another sluggish offensive performance against undermanned Boston College (7-13, 0-7), which is last in the ACC with 63.0 points per game, a 41.5 field-goal percentage and a minus-5.9 rebounding margin. The Eagles have averaged 54.7 points and 38.1 percent shooting while being outrebounded by 10.1 in their conference losses.
Boston College also ranks among the nation's worst free-throw shooting teams at 63.5 percent, and that inaccuracy proved costly in Tuesday's 72-62 loss to Florida State. The Eagles went 2 of 9 from the foul line compared to the Seminoles' 21-of-25 effort.
"We made a lot of careless mistakes at key times," coach Jim Christian said. "We came down on a 2-on-1 break and turn the ball over, missed four straight free throws ... you can't do that in this league and expect to win the game."
North Carolina's Brice Johnson had 19 points and 17 rebounds against Virginia Tech as the Tar Heels recorded a 48-33 advantage on the glass and outscored the Hokies 42-24 in the paint.
"I've said you've got to be able to win the game a lot of different ways, and (Sunday), it was rebounding," said Williams, who became the first with 350 wins at two Division I programs. "That was the single factor that helped us win the game more than anything else."
The Tar Heels have held their last three opponents to 40.1 percent shooting while forcing 51 turnovers.
Johnson, second in the ACC with 10.2 rebounds per game, is averaging 21.4 points and 66.7 percent shooting in his last five.
North Carolina has won seven straight over Boston College, loser of 32 of 34 against ranked teams. The Eagles have dropped 12 straight to Top 25 opponents since beating then-No. 1 Syracuse in overtime Feb. 19, 2014.