November 17, 2015

Despite playing without guard Marcus Paige, all the metrics look OK for top-ranked North Carolina through its first two victories.

Coach Roy Williams, though, is looking for improvement in Wednesday night's game against Wofford as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

The Tar Heels have averaged 91.5 points and 50.4 percent shooting while holding a 94-71 rebounding edge in victories over Temple and Fairfield. That's despite ACC preseason co-player of the year Paige - who averaged a team-high 14.1 points and shot 39.5 percent from 3-point range last season - continuing to recover from a broken bone in his non-shooting hand suffered in a freak injury at practice this month.

North Carolina has replaced Paige's production by committee in the backcourt with Nate Britt and Joel Berry II picking up the scoring slack. Britt is 7 for 10 from beyond the arc and 11 of 17 overall after matching his career high with 17 points in a 92-65 victory over the Stags on Sunday.

Berry hasn't finished well at the rim yet - he's 5 of 17 inside the arc and 5 of 10 from 3-point range - but has recorded four assists in each game as the two have become comfortable in the backcourt together.

''Point guards love playing with each other and I think that's pretty obvious,'' Britt said. ''Joel and I like playing with each other and it's the same thing with Marcus. ... There's like a different type of chemistry that we have. We've shown that the last two games.''

Williams, though, has seen the need to fine-tune things within games. The offense has been stagnant and the defense has been lax at times, and the former is the coach's primary concern given that the undersized Terriers - no starter is taller than 6-foot-7 - are likely to challenge the Tar Heels to shoot over them from the perimeter.

"I expect we'll see it a lot unless it's a team that's got a stubborn coach like me that just believes in man-to-man so much and believes in accountability," Williams said about the prospects of opponents trying to slow them down with zone defenses. "We're a much better shooting team than we were last year. The guys have got more confidence.

"I haven't seen any Wofford tape to know what (coach) Mike (Young's) going to do. I coached Mike when he was at basketball camp in North Carolina one hundred years ago, so that's really something."

Wofford's tape of its 83-74 loss Friday to open the season shows a team reliant on the perimeter offensively - 27 of its 55 shots came from 3-point range - and a strong debut by freshman Fletcher Magee. The 6-4 guard had 22 points off the bench, making 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, but the defensively dogged Terriers were unable to overcome a 20-2 run in the first half.

"We have buttered our bread on the defensive end and to give up 83 points is unacceptable," said Young, whose team ranked 19th last season in scoring defense at 59.7 points per game. "We could never quite get that one stop or one flurry that would have really made it interesting."

Since joining Division I in 1995, Wofford is 0-22 against Top 25 opponents. North Carolina has won both meetings between the teams, the last coming in 1926.

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