Published January 26, 2012
| Sports Network
Chapel Hill, NC – Instate rivals collide in ACC action in ranked North Carolina Tar Heels welcome the NC State Wolfpack to the Smith Center.
The Tar Heels were handed their worst loss in the Roy Williams' era with a 90-57 rout at the hands of Florida State back on January 14th. North Carolina was able to rebound from that however, with an 82-68 victory at Virginia Tech, posting the 10th win in the last 11 games and moving to 3-1 in league play.
Mark Gottfried's first season in Raleigh has been a successful one to this point. The Wolfpack enter this contest on a three-game win streak and have won nine of their last 10 overall. NC State moved to 4-1 in the ACC with last weekend's 78-73 victory at Miami-Florida.
This marks the 220th all-time meeting between these rivals. UNC holds a 144-75 series advantage and has won 10 straight and 16 of the last 17 meetings. The 10-game win streak is the longest in the series for North Carolina since a similar span from 1967-70. The Tar Heels' only longer win streak was 11 games from 1934-38.
The Wolfpack come into Chapel Hill as one of the better offensive teams in the ACC, ranking third at 76.9 ppg, while shooting a respectable .477 from the floor. All five starters are averaging double figures, led by Scott Wood's 13.3 ppg. Wood, who is shooting a hefty .453 from three-point range (53- of-117) has been perfect at the free-throw line this year, converting all 48 of his opportunities. C.J. Leslie (12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Richard Howell (11.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg) are a potent duo down low. Lorenzo Brown (12.4 ppg, 6.9 apg) and C.J. Williams (12.0 ppg) complete the quintet. Wood knocked down four three- pointers and went 7-of-7 from the charity stripe in leading NC State with 21 points in the win over Miami. DeShawn Painter came off the bench to pour in 18 points, while Leslie and Williams finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Wolfpack certainly have some offensive firepower, but getting into a shootout with the Tar Heels can't be a sound gameplan. UNC leads the nation in scoring at a hefty 85.1 ppg and boasts of the fifth-best scoring margin at +17.8. The Tar Heels rely on a dominant frontcourt that rivals any in the country. Sophomore forward Harrison Barnes headlines the trio and can score both inside and out, averaging 17.4 ppg and shooting 43.6 percent from behind the arc. Junior forward John Henson does his work down low, averaging a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Center Tyler Zeller has been equally productive in the paint, averaging a near double-double of at 14.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per outing. The backcourt consisted of point guard Kendall Marshall (9.5 apg) and Dexter Strickland (7.5 ppg), but Strickland went down last week with a season-ending knee injury. Expect youngsters Reggie Bullock (8.4 ppg) and P.J. Hairston (7.5 ppg) to see increased minutes. Barnes poured in a game-high 27 points in the win over Virginia Tech last time out. Henson finished with 16 points and 16 boards, while Zeller had a double-double as well, with 14 points and 11 caroms.