Coming off one of the most lopsided losses ranked North Carolina Tar Heels seek a quick game road swing this evening, taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies in ACC action at the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.
The Tar Heels seemed to be clicking on all cylinders as they brought a nine- game win streak into Tallahassee this past weekend. However, UNC ended up on the wrong end of a 90-57 rout at the hands of Florida State. The 33-point setback was the largest margin of defeat in the nine years UNC has been under Roy Williams' watchful eye.
While UNC is still considered a favorite in the conference this season, Virginia Tech is simply seeking its first league win of the year. The Hokies have lost three straight games, all in-conference, but are still five games over .500 on the year at 11-6.
North Carolina holds a sizable 61-13 lead in the all-time series with Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels have won six of the last seven meetings and 24 of the last 27 overall.
North Carolina set a season-low for field-goal percentage (.373) while allowing a season-high .484 shooting performance by Florida State in the humbling loss. FSU dominated in just about every facet of the game, including outrebounding UNC 43-35. The team received its usual production up front, as Harrison Barnes led the way with 15 points. Tyler Zeller posted a double- double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while John Henson chipped in with 10 points. Point guard Kendall Marshall had a game to forget though, finishing with just six points and four assists. The usually deft distributor was also the main culprit in UNC's unforgivable 22 turnovers, as Marshall finished with seven miscues. The frontcourt play is what drives the UNC engine, as the team is averaging 85.2 ppg on .478 shooting. Barnes has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, leading the Tar Heels with 16.8 ppg. Henson (14.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and Zeller (14.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg) combine to form quite the duo in the paint. Marshall doesn't add much to the scoring punch at just 5.8 ppg, but is averaging just under 10 assists per game (9.6 apg) to lead the conference and rank second nationally.
The Hokies rely heavily on their play at the defensive end of the court and will certainly be tested by the explosive Tar Heels. Virginia Tech is among the top defensive squads in the country, limiting foes to a mere 59.6 ppg, on just .396 shooting. The scoring depth is shallow, with guards Erick Greene and Dorenzo Hudson representing the best of the bunch. Greene leads the team in scoring (16.1 ppg), assists (48) and steals (22). Hudson drops in 11.4 ppg in support. A lack of depth could be even worse without Greene, who missed the team's last game and is still listed as day-to-day with a knee injury. Without Greene in the lineup, the Hokies dropped a two-point decision to Boston College. Victor Davila led the team with 14 points in the loss. Hudson added 13 points to the cause, but Tech shot just 36.2 percent from the floor overall, including a mere 28.6 percent from behind the arc.