Virginia Tech hopes to keep pace with No. 9 UNC (Jan 26, 2017)

January 25, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Virginia Tech has been a hot team and a willing participant in fast-paced games.

That approach is bound to be challenged Thursday night at No. 9 North Carolina, which feasts on playing at a rapid clip.

"We do want to score in transition, but we've been giving up too many points in transition," Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. "Their efficiency is very impressive and their defense is starting to fuel that. You have to starve teams like North Carolina. They're going to thrive on your bad shots."

North Carolina (18-3, 6-1 ACC) entered the week as a co-leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference, winning six games in a row.

The Virginia Tech coach said there's probably heightened importance on the type of shots the Hokies take because they can't avoid to be chasing the Tar Heels on fast breaks.

"I love our guys but we do not have the McDonald's All-Americans that North Carolina has," Buzz Williams said. "I think they have elite level players and an elite level coach. ... Their defensive numbers are better than before. There's more togetherness and toughness at that end than maybe the previous two years we've played them (since I've come to Virginia Tech)."

But North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he'll be stressing to his team how crucial it will be to get back on defense against the Hokies.

"Buzz does a great job of getting a shot that everyone on the team wants you to take," Roy Williams said. "Buzz has the right guys shooting the ball. It's our job to try to make them take a bad one."

Still, North Carolina has posted 20 or more second-chance points in five of the last six games, so the Tar Heels are prone to attack the offensive boards.

The Hokies (15-4, 4-3), who've won their past two games by one point, made a lineup adjustment prior to Sunday night's 82-81 victory at Clemson. Seth Allen joined the starting group, though it was his strong second half that carried Virginia Tech.

"What we had done the previous two road games wasn't going to work," Buzz Williams said. "I thought (this) flowed fine."

The Virginia Tech starting lineup the past two games also has included redshirt junior forward Ty Outlaw, who's from Roxboro, N.C., (not far from Chapel Hill) and began his college career at UNC Greensboro.

North Carolina went through a stretch of playing four games in nine days earlier this month. Going into this contest, the Tar Heels have had one game in the past nine-day span.

North Carolina's deep bench might not be as much of a factor as against some opponents because the Hokies spread out minutes as well.

"You're not going to wear them down," Roy Williams said, figuring he doesn't expect the Hokies to alter their strategy. "I don't think (Buzz Williams) would change drastically if he thinks that's the best way for his team to play."

This is the eighth time in 14 seasons under Roy Williams in which the Tar Heels have been 6-1 or better in the ACC.

North Carolina has won the past six meetings with Virginia Tech.



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