Maye poised to keep No. 11 UNC rolling vs. W. Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Luke Maye keeps scoring at a rapid clip for North Carolina, yet the surprise element doesn’t seem to be going away.
Maybe it’s time to get used to it.
The No. 11 Tar Heels are home against Wednesday night when Western Carolina provides the opposition at the Smith Center.
Article continues below ...
For Maye, it will be another chance to add to his lofty numbers.
Maye is averaging 20.8 points per game. He has 187 points this season (compared to 194 all of last season).
“It’s something we expect from Luke every game,” senior guard Theo Pinson said. “He’s always going to outwork his opponent every night. Now it’s his time and he’s out there performing.
Maye also has a team-leading 10.3 rebounds per game.
“I’m just tired of everybody thinking it’s a surprise,” senior guard Joel Berry II said of Maye’s production. “He’s a basketball player. He’s a good player for us and he’s going to continue to give us games like this. I don’t necessarily think it’s a surprise or it’s anything out of the ordinary.”
It’s getting to the point where it might extraordinary. Maye has seven games with 20 or more points.
Twice in the last five games, Maye has led the Tar Heels (8-1) in scoring, rebounding and assists, something that hadn’t been done since Reggie Bullock accomplished the feat in 2013.
“His numbers are somewhat surprising if I looked at those things, but I don’t really look at those things,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
Western Carolina will probably need to be paying attention to Maye’s output or it could be a long night for the Catamounts (3-6).
“We’ve got a pretty good road test coming up,” veteran Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said. “We’ve just go to cut loose and put on a good show, that’s what I told our guys. There’s no pressure in this game. Cut loose and play, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Western Carolina is coming off a dramatic 72-71 home victory against Appalachian State on Monday night. With a relatively quick turnaround, Hunter said it was good to see some of the team’s reserves put in good minutes.
“At different times, different people stepped up,” Hunter said. “When we subbed in the second half, our bench guys really gave us a big life for five or six minutes. Our depth was a big for us.”
The outcome against Appalachian State should be a boost even with the tough task confronting the Catamounts.
“We’ve been getting close for the last four or five games, we’ve consistently gotten better,” Hunter said. “That should do wonders for our confidence.”
Western Carolina will have concerns beyond Maye. The Tar Heels are coming off Sunday’s whipping of Tulane when they shot 65.5 percent from the field for their best shooting touch since a 2008 NCAA Tournament game. This came a week after a program-low 24.6 percent mark against Michigan State.
This will be North Carolina’s last game before an 11-day gap in the schedule because of final exams.
The teams have met only once previously, with visiting North Carolina, when it was ranked No. 1, winning 77-59 on Jan. 30, 1957, in Cullowhee, N.C.