The fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels conference action at the Smith Center.
Roy Williams's Tar Heels are 11-2 on the season, with the two losses coming to UNLV and Kentucky. Since the loss to the Wildcats, UNC has reeled off five straight wins, including an impressive 82-63 victory over Texas last week. All five victories during the current streak have come at home. The Tar Heels will continue their current lengthy homestand until taking on Florida State in Tallahassee on January 14th.
Matt Matheny's Phoenix are 7-4 on the young season, with half of those losses coming in the last two games with setbacks to Dartmouth (62-54) and San Diego State (81-55). Still, Elon has jumped out to a strong start in Southern Conference play at 2-0.
North Carolina holds a 17-4 edge in the all-time series with Elon and has won the last 10 meetings. However, this is the first matchup between the two teams since 1950.
The Phoenix have played well defensively this season, giving up just 66.2 ppg, on a mere .386 shooting. However, it hasn't always masked the team's inconsistency in the scoring department. Elon is averaging a modest 69.2 ppg and doing it on only 41.6 percent shooting. The Phoenix have a trio of double- digit scoring threats, but none can be considered a prolific scorer. Lucas Troutman headlines the group with 12.6 ppg. Austin Hamilton adds 10.2 ppg. while Jack Isenbarger chips in 10.0 ppg. Drew Spradlin and Sebastian Koch are just under the mark with 9.9 and 9.7 ppg, respectively. The Phoenix were no match for San Diego State in their last game, as they converted just 31.7 percent from the floor and a mere 8-of-28 from behind the arc (.286) in a lopsided loss. Isenbarger and Hamilton led the way in scoring with 10 points each.
With a talent pool as deep as any team in the country, North Carolina has shown the ability to win games at either end of the floor this year. The Tar Heels are shooting .483 overall and putting up an impressive 86.1 ppg (sixth nationally). It certainly helps to have the nation's premier frontcourt trio in Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller. Barnes is the player that NBA scouts covet. The 6-8 sophomore leads UNC with 16.8 ppg. As good as Barnes is, Henson is the more dominant low post threat, averaging a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Zeller just adds to the frontcourt power with 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per outing. In the win over Texas, Barnes was unstoppable, finishing with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Henson posted 14 points and eight boards, while Reggie Bullock chipped in with 12 points off the bench. Zeller added eight points and 11 rebounds to the cause.