Coral Gables, FL – The eighth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels Florida Hurricanes.
Roy Williams' squad dropped a crucial 85-84 decision to arch rival Duke last week, but bounced back with an impressive 70-52 win over nationally-ranked Virginia this past weekend to move to 8-2 in league play, good for a first- place tie with both Duke and Florida State in the standings.
Jim Larranaga's first season with the Hurricanes has been mildly successful. Miami is making a push for NCAA Tournament consideration, highlighted by a huge win over Duke in Durham. However, the momentum gained by a recent five- game win streak, was halted by last weekend's 64-59 road loss at rival Florida State.
The Tar Heels own a 17-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Hurricanes and have won the last nine meetings, including a 73-56 decision in Chapel Hill back on January 10th.
Virginia held North Carolina well under its season average, but it didn't matter, as the Tar Heels still won the game by 18 points this past weekend at the Smith Center. It was once again UNC's frontcourt that made the difference, headlined by Tyler Zeller. The 7-0 senior just missed a double-double with 25 points and nine rebounds. Forwards Harrison Barnes and John Henson however, were able to pull off the feat. Barnes finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Henson tallied 10 points and 10 boards for North Carolina, which outrebounded the Cavaliers, 52-32.
Fueled by the nation's premier frontcourt, North Carolina leads the country in scoring (83.5 ppg). Barnes has the ability to score both inside and out and is averaging a team-best 17.5 ppg (second in the ACC). Zeller isn't far behind at 16.0 ppg (fifth in the conference), while Henson pours in 14.0 ppg (ninth in the league). Henson and Zeller make up quite the rebounding tandem as well. Henson leads the ACC with 10.3 rpg, followed closely by Zeller's 9.6 rpg (third in the ACC). Point guard Kendall Marshall is charged with running the offense and although he isn't much of a scorer (6.8 ppg), he ranks first in the ACC and second nationally in assists (9.6 apg).
When compared to UNC's offensive proficiency, Miami lags pretty far behind. The Hurricanes are averaging a modest 71.5 ppg this year, doing so on .438 shooting. Still, there is scoring depth, as four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures. Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott share the team-lead with 12.6 ppg apiece. Malcolm Grant (12.1 ppg) provides support along the perimeter, while Reggie Johnson (11.4 ppg, team-high 6.9 rpg) does the same up front.
The Hurricanes struggled to find their range against the defensively-gifted Seminoles last time out, shooting a mere 41.4 percent from the floor, including an ugly 27.3 percent from three-point range (5-of-22). Kadji led the way at the offensive end with 14 points. Scott finished with 12 points, while Grant added nine. Johnson however, was neutralized in the game, finishing with a mere four points in the loss.