Presbyterian-North Carolina Preview
North Carolina shouldn't get too comfortable at home.
With yet another tough road test looming, the 11th-ranked Tar Heels look to avoid a letdown against the Big South's Presbyterian on Saturday night in the first matchup between the teams.
After two contests against top-10 teams, North Carolina (7-2) is getting a breather against an inferior opponent.
The Tar Heels beat then-No. 9 Michigan State 89-82 at home Dec. 1, eight months after defeating the Spartans to win the national championship. North Carolina, though, went on to lose its second straight road game, 68-66 to then-No. 5 Kentucky last Saturday.
The Tar Heels will face No. 2 Texas on the road Dec. 19, but first get a chance to improve to 7-0 at home as they face a Blue Hose team that is in its fourth season in Division I. North Carolina has won its home games by an average of 18.1 points.
Coach Roy Williams, though will not have senior guard Marcus Ginyard available due to pain in his left foot that is unrelated to the stress fracture that cost him most of last season. Ginyard is averaging 10.4 points and shooting 44.0 percent from 3-point range.
Against Michigan State, the Tar Heels went 5 for 10 from beyond the arc. They matched a season high with seven 3-pointers on 20 attempts versus the Wildcats but made a season-low seven free throws.
Sophomore point guard Larry Drew and his freshman backup, Dexter Strickland, combined for 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting while committing six turnovers. North Carolina needs the duo to become more consistent as ACC play approaches.
"We're North Carolina and we can talk all we want about what we're going to do, but when we're out there on the court we have to take care of business," Drew said.
Deon Thompson topped North Carolina with 14 points last Saturday. Thompson, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, is averaging 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Ed Davis, averaging 13.3 points, was held to nine after scoring at least 15 in his previous four games.
Thompson and the 6-10 Davis will give Presbyterian matchup problems. The Blue Hose's tallest regular is 6-9 freshman Jake Troyli, who leads the team with 15.8 points per game.
Presbyterian has six other players averaging at least 13.0 minutes a contest, but none of them are taller than 6-4.
This will be the third game against a ranked team this season for the Blue Hose, who opened the season with an 84-41 loss at then-No. 24 Clemson on Nov. 13 and were defeated 94-48 by then-No. 23 Illinois on the road Nov. 21.
Presbyterian has blown double-digit second-half leads in each of its last two games, losing 63-61 to High Point on Dec. 3 and 61-57 to Radford two days later.
Troyli matched a season low with 10 points versus Radford. He averaged 17.0 and shot 5 for 10 from 3-point range over his previous six games.
Sophomore guard Chase Holmes is the only other play averaging double figures in scoring for the Blue Hose, posting 13.3 points a contest.