UNC (10-3, 0-0) vs. Virginia (10-3, 0-0)
P.J. Hairston sparked last year's win in Charlottesville.
When: Sunday, Jan. 6, 8 PM ET
Where: Charlottesville, Va.
Series: This will be the 176th meeting between the two schools. UNC leads 127-49 and is 44-31 in Charlottesville.
ACC play: Today marks the start of ACC season for both teams. North Carolina enters today’s game coming off their most complete game of the season in the Heels’ first marquee win of the season, beating a No. 20 UNLV. Virginia enters the contest off a blowout victory at home against Wofford, where the Cavaliers shot 63.8 percent from the floor.
Last season: UNC won both matchups against the Cavaliers. The first time the two teams met, No. 5 UNC beat the No. 20 Cavs 70-52 at home, and Roy Williams got his 664th win to tie John Wooden. In Charlottesville, No. 7 UNC squeaked out a 54-51 victory. Down by four at halftime, a 5-0 run by P.J. Hairston finally gave UNC the lead at the 11 minute mark. This game marked win number 250 for Williams.
Joe Harris leads the Cavs at 15.2 points per game, making 2.2 3s per.
Last game: P.J. Hairston scored a career-high 15 points in his first career start and Dexter Strickland added 16 points to help the Heels get a 79-73 win over No. 20 UNLV on Dec. 31st. Hairston started in place of Reggie Bullock, who was out due to a mild concussion he suffered in practice. Marcus Paige added 12 points and four assists. Heels’ defensive intensity was present, as UNLV committed 17 turnovers, and UNC stole the ball 12 times.
Season story: In his fourth season as head coach of UVA, Tony Bennett has guided the Cavs to a 10-3 non-conference record in November and December. The Cavaliers rely on their defense to win games and are holding teams to just 35.3 percent shooting. Thus far, UVA has suffered losses to George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion. With the loss of PF Mike Scott (18.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG) to the NBA last season, the Cavs have relied heavily on the play of inside man junior Akil Mitchell (13.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG). Senior starting point guard Jontel Evans re-injured his right foot in early December, and today should be his first game back, though nothing has been confirmed. In his absence, freshman point guard and North Carolina native Teven Jones averaged 4.1 points and 2.5 assists. UVA is 9-1 at home.
What to watch for
-- For a young UNC team that’s often been inconsistent on the defensive end this season, UVA will surely present a challenge in how long they like to milk the shot clock.
“We can all play 30-point games. What’s most impressive is the way they guard you. They guard your rear ends. They get a hand on every shot and pack in the lanes. They put great pressure on the ball. The way they play on offense is something other people can do, but very few people come out and guard you the way they do. Don’t come out saying I’m criticizing what the hell they do on offense. I’ve had enough of that BS over my career.” – Roy Williams
-- Justin Anderson, a freshman small forward who was a four-star recruit and the 13th ranked player at his position, is providing quality minutes (20.4) for the Cavaliers off the bench. He’s only averaging 5.8 points, but he has a skill set worth keeping an eye on.
-- North Carolina leads the ACC in points per game (83.6) while Virginia ranks last in the ACC in the same category (64.8).
-- Junior Reggie Bullock is expected to play today after missing the UNLV game with a mild concussion.
F: Desmond Hubert (6’9”, 200, So.) -- 1.2 PPG
F: James Michael McAdoo (6’9”, 230, So.) -- 14.8 PPG
G: Reggie Bullock (6’7”, 205, Jr.) -- 13.1 PPG
G: Dexter Strickland (6’3”, 185, Sr.) -- 9.4 PPG
PG: Marcus Paige (6’5”, 157, Fr.) -- 7.4 PPG
F: Akil Mitchell (6’8”, 234, Jr.) -- 13.2 PPG
F: Darion Atkins (6’8”, 222, So.) -- 8.1 PGG
G: Joe Harris (6’6”, 211, Jr.) -- 15.2
G: Paul Jesperson (6’6”, 197, So.) -- 4.4 PPG
PG: Jontel Evans (5’11”, 188, Sr.) -- 1.5 PPG or Tevin Jones (6’0”, 180, Fr.) -- 4.1 PPG
Quotable: "I'd like to think they grew up 100 times, but who knows? They're 17-, 18-, 19-year-old kids. Who knows what they're going to do tomorrow? We've been practicing 47 practices and played 13 games and that's the first time we've really been able to feel good about what we did.” – Roy Williams after UNC’s win against UNLV
Williams said Christmas break is a critical time for young teams to improve. The win against UNLV was inspiring and much-needed, but we’ll find out today if UNC meant it for real, and if they can continue strong play on the road against their first ACC foe of the season.