Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Setting their sights on a third straight victory, the 15th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels welcome the Virginia Tech Hokies to the Dean E. Smith Center on Sunday evening, for an ACC matchup.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels are 13-4 on the season, have won two straight and seven of their last eight games, with the lone loss during that stretch being a one-point setback to Notre Dame (71-70). Most recently, the team has recorded a pair of narrow victories over Louisville (72-71) and NC State (81-79) to move to 3-1 in league play.
Buzz Williams' first season in Blacksburg has been an up-and-down ride thus far, reflected in the team's 8-8 overall record. Unfortunately, it has been all downhill in ACC play thus far, as the team is still seeking its first win of the 2015 calendar year. The Hokies bring a four-game losing streak into this contest and an 0-3 mark in conference play. The skid continued last Tuesday with a 78-63 loss at Louisville.
UNC has dominated this series and currently holds a 64-13 edge all-time. That includes an 11-3 mark since Virginia Tech joined the ACC prior to the 2004-05 campaign. The Tar Heels have captured nine of the last 10 meetings overall.
This contest will conclude a three-game road trip for Virginia Tech. The first two legs of the set failed to produce positive results, including the lopsided loss at Louisville on Tuesday. The Cardinals jumped all over the Hokies, opening with a 17-2 run and never looking back. Adam Smith led three Hokies in double figures in the setback, finishing with 19 points. Justin Bibbs tacked on 15 points, while Ahmed Hill chipped in with 14 for Virginia Tech, which shot just .367 from the floor overall.
Virginia Tech is far from an offensive juggernaut at a modest 69.0 ppg. However, the scoring comes on an efficient .470 shooting that includes a stellar .405 from behind the arc. Bibbs and Smith are a solid one-two punch at the offensive end. Bibbs is shooting just over 50 percent from the field and tops the team at 13.6 ppg. Smith isn't far behind with his 13.1 ppg. The pair have been lethal from long range, both shooting over 45 percent from 3-point range and combining for 68 of the team's 109 3-pointers to date.
The Tar Heels shot the ball at an impressive .556 clip at NC State last week and needed every bit of it, as UNC was able to edge out the Wolfpack on the road by two points. Star guard Marcus Paige was unstoppable in the win, finishing with game-highs of 23 points and nine assists. While Paige just missed a double-double, big man Kennedy Meeks was able to complete the feat, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Hicks came off the bench with 12 points and Brice Johnson tacked on 10 for North Carolina.
Strong offensive performances are nothing new for North Carolina this season. The team enters this contest averaging 79.6 ppg, ranking third in the conference. The Tar Heels couple that with strong defensive numbers, allowing just 65.6 ppg and ranking third in the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.369). Paige paces the team in scoring at 13.9 ppg. Meeks is a perfect complement with his dominance in the paint. The 6-foot-9 sophomore is converting 58.1 percent of his shots and is averaging 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Johnson rounds out the team's top offensive threats with 11.2 ppg.