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Preview: UNC hosts No. 20 UNLV

North Carolina (9-3) vs. No. 20 UNLV (11-1)

UNLV star forward Mike Moser, who dislocated his elbow in a gruesome manner Dec. 9, returned to full-contact practice Wednesday but isn’t sure he’ll be ready to play Saturday at North Carolina. Freshman power forward Anthony Bennett has emerged as a star, averaging 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game

Date: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Tipoff: 2 p.m.
Site: Smith Center, Chapel Hill
Television: ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi, Jay Bilas)
Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network - Jones Angell (play-by-play), Eric Montross (analyst), Dave Nathan (host)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 91, XM 91
Online: GoHeels.com; @UNC_Basketball, @GoHeels

Records/Series History

2012-13 Carolina Record: 9-3
2012-13 UNLV Record: 11-1
Series History: UNC leads, 3-1
Last Meeting: UNLV 90, UNC 80 on Nov. 26, 2011, in
the Las Vegas Invitational

National Rankings

UNC: unranked in boll national polls
UNLV: #20 AP/#17 coaches

Coaches

UNC: Roy Williams (UNC ‘72) is 266-71 in his 10th season at Carolina, 684-172 in his 25th season overall

UNLV: Dave Rice is 37-10 in his second season at UNLV, 37-10 in his second season overall

Story lines

**** The Tar Heels beat McNeese State 97-63 last Saturday in the Smith Center, then dispersed for a holiday break at home with their families. The team reconvened for practice on Thursday evening Dec. 27 in preparation for Saturday’s matchup against UNLV.

**** UNLV enters Saturday’s game with an 11-1 record and is riding a nine-game winning streak. The Runnin’ Rebels, ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 17th by the coaches, are coming off an 89-74 home win over Canisius last Saturday night.

**** The Tar Heels are looking to improve to 10-3 this season. Carolina has won four of its last five games. UNC ranks third in the nation in scoring (84.0 points per game) and first in assists (20.1 per game).

**** After Saturday’s contest, Carolina will not play again until Jan. 6. In eight days, the Tar Heels will open Atlantic Coast Conference play for 2012-13 on Sunday Jan. 6 at Virginia.

**** Two of UNC’s first three ACC games this season will come on the road, including matchups at Virginia and on Jan. 12 at Florida State. Sandwiched between those two conference road games will be a Jan. 10 home date against Miami.

THE SERIES VS. UNLV

**** Saturday’s game will be the fifth meeting between UNC and UNLV and the first in Chapel Hill.

Carolina has won three of the previous four meetings entering this weekend’s game.

Saturday will mark the first on-campus meeting between UNLV and UNC after previous meetings in the NCAA Tournament, Great Alaska Shootout, Food Lion Classic in Charlotte and a meeting in Las Vegas last year. Last season’s matchup between the Tar Heels and Runnin’ Rebels came in the Orleans Arena, not at the Thomas & Mack Center (UNLV’s home floor).

**** The Tar Heels won the first three meetings in the series, including a win in the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta (on March 26, 1977), the Great Alaska Shootout (Dec. 1, 1985) and the Food Lion Classic (Dec. 4, 1999, in Charlotte).

**** UNC head coach Roy Williams is 3-1 against UNLV, including a 3-0 mark at Kansas and a loss as the Tar Heel coach last season in Las Vegas.

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