Looking the part of the nation's best team, ranked North Carolina Tar Heels welcome the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils to Chapel Hill this afternoon as part of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Give Mississippi Valley State a ton of credit for scheduling a ton of outstanding non-conference opponents, as the program will face 10 major conference foes through the first 11 games. So far, the Delta Devils have taken on two Big East squads in Notre Dame and DePaul, and neither of those affairs got out of hand. After falling to the Fighting Irish by 13 points, MVSU dropped an 80-70 decision to the Blue Demons on Monday, and the brutal competition figures to pay dividends when SWAC play begins.
Today's affair marks the home opener for the Tar Heels, who beat Michigan State on an aircraft carrier to open the season. Then, last Sunday, UNC took care of business against UNC Asheville, 91-75. With non-conference matchups against the likes of Kentucky, Wisconsin and Texas remaining before the start of ACC play, Roy Williams and company will have a chance to build an impressive resume'.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between UNC and MVSU on the hardwood.
Mississippi Valley State has a couple of solid performers in the lineup, as both Kevin Burwell and Amos Studivant are netting 12.0 ppg thus far. Studivant is shooting 57.9 percent from the field and tops the roster with 8.5 rpg as well. Against DePaul on Monday, MVSU center Paul Crosby was one of five players for the team to reach double figures in scoring, as he led the way with 13 points in 28 minutes of action. Cor-J Cox tallied 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench, while Studivant contributed 12 points and 12 boards. Falando Jones netted 11 points for the Delta Devils, and Burwell rounded out the group with 10 points and 10 rebounds from his guard position. MVSU turned the ball over 18 times, but the club did force 20 turnovers while earning advantages in both points from the foul line (20-12) and rebounding (40-34). Unfortunately, the Blue Demons shot 51.8 percent from the field, the difference in the game.
The North Carolina frontcourt was dominant in the 16-point win over UNC Asheville last time out. Tyler Zeller poured in 27 points to go along with eight rebounds, and John Henson posted 20 points and 12 boards. As for Harrison Barnes, he netted 17 points for the Heels, who received 15 assists against only one turnover from Kendall Marshall. UNC did turn the ball over 17 times in the affair, but the club shot 59.3 percent from the floor and earned advantages in both rebounding (41-27) and points from the foul line (25-17). Defensively, the Heels held UNCA to 39.7 percent field goal efficiency. Barnes led the way in the season-opening win over Michigan State with 17 points, and he figures to be a lottery pick in the next NBA Draft.