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UNC vs NC State

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, January 29th, 2:00 PM
Records: UNC 14-5, 4-1 ACC; NCSU 12-8, 2-4 ACC

Someone call Admiral Akbar because what we have here is a trap game.

UNC is 4-1 in the ACC, 14-5 overall and has seemingly “isolated” the loss to Georgia Tech as more or less a “bad game.” The question for this team is whether than can keep it rolling or allow themselves to be victims to a letdown at home versus a rival desperate for the kind of huge win? The most important aspect in all of this, even above the need to beat NC State for the sake of beating NC State is defending home court. UNC’s 2-1 road record means a 7-1 record at home(one loss to Duke) puts them at 9-7 in the ACC if the worst case(and possible) 2-6 road record materializes. So holding serve at home is monumental. Beating NC State is enough incentive to show up big in this game but the ACC implications should be as well.

NC State on the other hand is in turmoil. They have been roundly criticized for a lack of effort and intensity. Freshman CJ Leslie has been a trainwreck to the point NCSU fans would prefer he not play. Tracy Smith has been rusty since coming off knee surgery earlier in the season and the Pack have had their own point guard controversy involving a freshman in Ryan Harrow who most think should start and play ahead of a senior Javi Gonzalez. In their past two games NCSU has built huge leads only to give them away. Against Miami a 17 point lead evaporated but the Pack held on. On Tuesday at Clemson NCSU was up 31-12 before Clemson went on the always popular 48-19 run to win the game by ten. That contest was marked by such poor offensive execution and general effort on the part of the Wolfpack the Fayetteville Observer’s Dan Wiederer called it the worst loss of the Sidney Lowe era(and that is saying something.) That has led to a general sense Lowe is done in West Raleigh, talk of player only meetings and the real possibility the Wolfpack comes out like gangbusters versus UNC. It is important to remember NCSU is still  plenty dangerous. Scott Wood is capable of reigning threes, Harrow is quick, Smith is physical enough to give UNC interior players trouble and players like Richard Howell have performed well of late even if the likes of CJ Leslie have not.

The key for UNC then? Blow their doors off at the start. Do not give them as much as 90 seconds of game time where they think any newfound intensity or sense of purpose is actually paying off. UNC needs to play the first half of this game like they did versus Clemson. Such a half should effectively demoralize NC State. UNC also needs to play a complete game which means no letdowns, no stretches of looking like they can’t pass the basketball or forgot how to shoot, just straight Carolina basketball. Roy Williams’ is old school ACC which means Big Four games are huge to him and as he famously noted a few years ago, he would rather “beat NC State than eat.” I imagine this will be impressed upon the young Heels but even more so we know from the summer league games in Durham, Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and John Henson already understand what this game means. It is not the rivalry it once was but we still have to be around these people so I would much prefer we keep their bragging to football.

UNC 93 NCSU 76

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16 comments to UNC vs NC State

  • BoyWilliams

    Weather report: A thick blanketing of D, mixed in with a heavy rain of 3′s. GO HEELS!!

  • makeitWayne22

    Just win….. Theme of the year

  • PRGuy

    So the Sydney Lowe farewell tour stops in Chapel Hill today. What will he do with all those red jackets next year?

  • Racerman27410

    i hope the intensity of the summer league shows up for this one.

    it’s time for the boys to put together a complete game!

    Go Heels!

  • LarryS

    By my calculations it’s been 22 games, in conference play (including ACCT), since UNC was favored by double digits. That’s a long stretch.

    This level of favor probably has more to do with State’s poor play than anything special the Heels have done. Nonetheless, the thinking part of me knows UNC is the better team…….the other part of me knows that we still don’t know what to expect.

    Just to be lenient, I’ll take a single-digit win if they can play two solid halves of basketball. Of course if they play solid and only win by single digits, that likely means State played pretty well.

    And if they can put together the game we’ve all been looking for, the kind where they look more like Fred Astaire than Elaine Benes, all the better.


  • BoyWilliams

    UNC in NBA fight: Raymond Felton had to restrain Marvin Williams after Williams got floored with a punch. Larry Drew Sr. saw the whole thing.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    Going to need a man’s game from Tyler Zeller today…

    And please don’t leave Scott Wood unguarded.

  • plibt

    isn’t every game this team plays a trap?

  • makeitWayne22

    I love Roy for many reasons, but one being, he doesnt lose to state. Similar to O’brien in football, he knows the importance of this rivalry.

  • TheUNCFan

    State is its own worst enemy - their guard situation is a mess, with the talented but inexperienced freshmen playing inconsistently. It’s like a man on a tightrope over Niagara falls who gets halfway and looks down and realized where he is. Whoops, there goes the lead. (Cue the Wendy & Lisa song about the waterfall.)

    The key is to take it to State’s guards on both ends. On offense, once you get past the guards (which seems easy), the defense collapses. On defense, pressure on the guards causes the offense to shoot blanks.

    Lowe starts his best five, but as a result he gets nothing from his bench. There is no spark like MacDonald and Bullock. Javi Gonzalez remarkably has played his way out of the starting and then backup point guard. When he’s on the court, it’s like 4-on-5. Their bigs off the bench just eat up minutes.

    Tracy Smith is not himself, although he’s still potent. Henson should be ready to block shots, since Smith gets little elevation. But watch out for his new face-up jumper.

    State is really not as bad as they seem, because the bad stuff comes from inexperience this year and not talent level as in the past. If all these guys could ever play 40 minutes, they’d be a good team. But they don’t, and they’re not. I wouldn’t go up to the 90s, but this should be a good high-70s to low-60s win.

    If Lowe is given one more year, this team could be scary and worthy of a rivalry instead of a scrimmage. These three freshmen as sophomores will be much better, and addition-by-subtraction will give State a big talent boost.

  • makeitWayne22

    ^^^ he can not coach basketball.

  • william

    Interesting Sagarin compilation of all time programs shows today’s match-up as one between number 4 and number 22 all time:


  • keithunc

    good point plibt.

  • william

    I know we have been a bit disappointed with our freshmen, although we have been feeling better as Marshall and Bullock get more minutes and Barnes at least plays well at the end of games, but State seems totally to be a disappointment.

    Looking at Scout’s rankings, they had a class essentially equal to ours, and they still seem to be struggling at about the same level as last year. I thought C.J. Leslie was supposed to be Lowe’s key recruit. If Leslie does turn out to be a bust, I am afraid Lowe’s time might be short.

  • makeitWayne22

    Lesile could be a great player, but Sid can not coach… Thats the problem. States whined and moaned about Herb, and he’s coaching style, yet the man got them to the Sweet sixteen.

  • Racerman27410

    just heard Woody say Harrow wont be playing today for the pack.. not even dressed out.