The North Carolina Tar Heels finally return home after a five game road trip that took the Heels to California, Maui and Indiana. UNC has lost two of their last three games and will try and put a ugly blowout loss to the Hoosiers behind them.
North Carolina (5-2) vs. UAB (4-3)
Chapel Hill- Dean E. Smith Center
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ESPNU
UNC will face former assistant coach Jared Haase who spent 13 years as an assistant to Roy Williams before departing to take the head gig at UAB this off season. This is just the third meeting ever between these two programs with the last coming in the 2010 NIT with UNC leading the series 2-0.
Haase has installed a pretty similar type of playing style with the Blazers to what the Tar Heels run. UAB has a balanced offense with some capable scorers but the team as a whole shoots a low percentage from the field. This team hangs their hat on the defensive end of the court holding opponents to just 40.1% from the field and less than 31% from three point range. In a loss to Creighton the Blazers held star Doug McDermott to just 2-of-6 shooting.
Many questions surrounded the Tar Heels to open the season and not many have been answered as they continue to search for their identity and grow as a young team. Perimeter stars Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston are game time decisions, Hairston missed Mondays game against Indiana with a knee sprain and Bullock injured his finger against the Hoosiers. Their health is huge as they represent the second and third leading scorers on the team and the top two three point shooters thus far this season.
It should be interesting to see who Roy Williams decides to start inside beside sophomore James Michael McAdoo. Roy went to freshman Brice Johnson against Chaminade in the Maui Invitational but switched back to Desmond Hubert against Indiana. Johnson and fellow freshman Joel James are getting the bulk of the minutes with Hubert playing less than ten minutes the last two games and in my view it makes no sense starting Hubert.
UNC will have to do a much better job of getting back on defense after being embarrassed by the Hoosiers in transition against a UAB team that also likes to get out and run. After facing two very good shooting teams in Butler and Indiana the Heels get a bit of a break with the Blazers who shoot just 43.9% from the field and 34% from three.
Look for UNC to get back to their winning ways against the Blazers but this game isn’t about the scoreboard. The Heels need to look better on both ends of the floor and need to show a lot more toughness and heart in this game. Facing three straight easily winnable games this young team needs to keep it’s focus before heading to Texas to face the Longhorns on December 19th. Each game until then is about improving before they get another chance to prove they can beat a good team.