North Carolina (9-5, 4-3) looks ahead to Saturday afternoon against in-state rival North Carolina State (6-4, 2-3). The Wolfpack are looking to sweep the Heels, and in return, the Heels are looking for payback.
Carolina plays its first ACC opponent for a second time this season when it hosts NC State on Saturday in the Dean Dome. This will be the first time in over a week the Wolfpack have returned to the court; they have been idle due to COVID protocols within the program on January 13.
Carolina rallied from a 17-point deficit in the first half in their last meeting but fell short to NC State, 79-76. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak against the Pack in Raleigh. As the match-up returns to Chapel Hill, last season, the Heels defeated the Pack, 85-79. Garrison Brooks scored a game-high of 30 points and nine rebounds.
A concern for North Carolina in their return home is pace and energy. Head Coach Roy Williams spoke about his distaste for having to teach effort,
"We're disgusted at having to coach energy; We're supposed to be coaching execution. It's not an excuse, but you have seven freshmen; it's a lot for those guys, but we are 14 games, and it's time for it to be automatic."
KenPom ranks Carolina as the 326th-most experienced team in the nation (out of 342 teams). Six of UNC's ten rotation players are freshmen, but Williams is exhausted with the freshman excuse and is ready to click with this team. Carolina's seven ACC games have been decided by three, five, one, two, six, seven, and seven points. This is the first time UNC has ever played seven consecutive ACC games decided by seven points or less.
Player to watch, Caleb Love:
Against Wake Forest, Caleb Love scored a season-high 20 points. He is the second Tar Heel to score 20 this season (25 by Day'Ron Sharpe vs. Notre Dame). His shot selection improved significantly as he shot a season-best seven for twelve from the floor, including two for three from three. Also, Love committed two turnovers in the first five minutes, then did not commit another until 28 seconds to play.
After the game, Love credited his teammates and support system for being there for him, reminding him to keep shooting. The Missouri native also credited the Calm app and meditating at least twice a day to focus. The freshman was all smiles after one of his season's best but still put in the extra effort to put up shots after the game. Love's commitment to being confident in his shot and performance shows the maturity in his leadership and dedication to Carolina.
Game Day Details:
- Opponent: N.C. State
- Place: Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Time: 2 pm
- Watch: ESPN (Doug Sherman, Cory Alexander)
- Radio: Tar Heel Sports Properties
- Satellite Radio: Sirius/XM 84