UNC Women's Basketball Hopes To Stay Hot Versus Hurricanes

The UNC Women's Basketball program has won eight of its last nine games and will look to stay hot as Miami makes the trip to Chapel Hill on Thursday night.

Michael Hickey/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

It was a rough start to the season for the UNC Women's Basketball program as a difficult non-conference schedule led to a 6-4 start, including losing three straight. However, since then the Tar Heels are 8-1 in their nine games, with the lone loss coming on the road at No. 21-ranked Florida State.

During that span, they have wins over ranked opponents Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Louisville, all of which have led to a 14-5 record and a 6-1 start in conference play. Now, after a difficult stretch, the Tar Heels will welcome 12-5 (2-4) Miami to Chapel Hill for the lone matchup of the season between the two programs.

12-5. 834. UNC WBB vs Miami. 14-5. ACC Network. Thursday, Jan 25. 441. . 8:00 PM ET

The Hurricanes are coming into this game, losing two of their last six games but securing a dominant 73-59 victory at home over No. 4 NC State. They haven't been very good away from the Watsco Center this year, with 11 of their 12 wins coming at home.

The Hurricanes on the road in conference play have dropped games to Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame, with the Hokies and Irish beating Miami by 24 and 11 points respectively. They are dangerous, though, as they showed in their most recent contest against the Wolfpack.

In the upset of NC State, Miami shot 53.6% from the field and held the Wolfpack to 28.1% en route to their 14-point victory despite being out-shot at the free throw line by 11 attempts and turning the ball over 18 times. Can the Tar Heels keep the momentum rolling and pick up another home win in Carmichael Arena?

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Miami is 12-5 and 2-4 in the conference. Nothing against the Hurricanes, but they just haven't shown they are at the talent level that North Carolina has of late. These two programs are trending in opposite directions with the Hurricanes 2-4 in their last six and North Carolina 5-1.

Despite their recent on-court performances, the Tar Heels can't overlook the Hurricanes. North Carolina must come out with energy and effort just like they have against the recently ranked opponents they have faced.

The UNC Women's Basketball program is 10-1 at home this year and will have an advantage on Thursday night with the home crowd behind them. Using that energy to fuel them to a victory will be crucial as they face 2-4 Miami and 1-6 Virginia this weekend before a string of games against NC State, Virginia Tech, and Duke.

Something to Watch For

In the upset of No. 13-ranked Louisville, the Tar Heels were dominant defensively once again but showed some signs of potential on the offensive end as they made an impressive 49.1% of their field goal attempts, scoring 79 points against the Cardinals.

It was also a great sign to see North Carolina get offensive production from other contributors outside of Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby. Both Kelly and Ustby scored 23 and 10 points, respectively, with Ustby contributing another double-double performance and coming three blocks away from her second triple-double of her career.

Lexi Donarski and Indya Nivar both scored in double figures as well, providing a spark offensively for the Tar Heels. This will be something to watch as we move throughout the rest of conference play. The more offensive production North Carolina can get from players not named Deja and Alyssa, the higher the ceiling becomes.

Against a Miami team that has been allowing 70 or more points over their seven games, this will be another great opportunity for the Tar Heels to get confidence on the offensive end of the floor.

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 9.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.5 apg
No. 10 Reniya Kelly (Fr. 5-7) 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg
No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 16.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg