Some important basketball is coming up, starting with tonight's game. In the midst of all the crazy late-November basketball this past week -- oh, and that painful event Saturday night that causes me to have a migraine every time I see Hunter Orange -- how about we recap the most recent history of our soon-to-be opponents:
UNC Asheville (0-6 Overall): In the battle of "Schools With Bulldogs For Mascots" -- which is slightly more prestigious than the Crosstown Shootout -- UNCA lost to UGA on November 24th by the score of 79-58. Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach said after the game, "We've got to start playing better defense... We're just not getting the job done on the defensive end." Asheville's defensive effort was better against Furman on November 27th, holding the Paladins to only 40% FG% and 7-16 3FG. Despite the improvement, the Bulldogs allowed an 11-0 run with 6 minutes left in the second half, allowing Furman to win 72-66.
Against Furman, UNCA sophomore guard J.P. Primm scored 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Freshmen center D.J. Cunningham -- listed as 6' 10" tall -- accumulated 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in his 19 minutes of play.
North Carolina (6-1 Overall) -- After getting shut down by Syracuse in the 2K Sports Classic, the Tar Heels have responded against their nonconf guests. On November 23rd, UNC won 93-72 against Gardner-Webb. (On the ESPN Fast Facts infobox: "Gardner-Webb fell to 1-6 all-time vs. ranked teams, with its last win coming Nov. 2, 2007, against No. 20 Kentucky." Ol' Roy's boys outmatched the Runnin' Bulldogs in every way. North Carolina attempted only 4 3-pointers, making one; they also committed only 8 fouls for the entire game, and shot 33 FTs (making only 18).
Yesterday the Tar Heels were challenged by Nevada. Ty Lawson's replacement, Larry Drew II, nailed two 3-pointers late in the second-half to help the Tar Heels win 80-73. Despite not starting a game yet, sophomore forward Tyler Zeller is averaging 10.1 PPG on 61% FG; Tyler only averages 3.9 rebounds per game. Senior forward Deon Thompson leads the Tar Heels with 17.7 PPG and 82 FG Attempted. Drew II, junior guard/forward Will Graves and senior guard/forward Marcus Ginyard have shot 72% of all 3-point attempts, scoring on just 26 of 62 attempts. As a team, the Tar Heels only average 36% 3FG.
UConn (4-1 Overall) -- The Huskies just finished up with the NIT Season Tip-Off. In the semi-final game on November 25th, UConn blew the stripes off of the LSU Tigers and won 81-55. The Huskies gathered 43 rebounds, 10 steals and 10 blocks and held the athletic Bayou Bengals to 37.1% FG and 20% 3FG.
It was a different story against the Duke Blue GothicTrons. Duke's collection of long-armed goofy forwards challenged every dribble penetration, which severely hampered Husky guards Jerome Dyson & Kemba Walker. In Duke's 68-59 victory, the Dukies gathered 25 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded UConn 56-43. After the game, UConn Coach Jim Calhoun said, "The physical presence, obviously the rebounding was, in my opinion, the major problem with the game."
freshman sophomore guard Kemba Walker may be the first true threat to defend John Wall. While watching the game on ESPN360, I couldn't tell if he had the lateral quickness that may force John into charges or would prevent Wall from getting by. What I did see is that UConn looks more comfortable in either transition or dribble-penetration offense.