Tuesday, February 19, 2013
UNC at Georgia Tech: What to watch
By Robbi Pickeral
North Carolina has struggled at Georgia Tech in recent years, losing six of its last seven games in Atlanta dating back to 2002 (with the only win coming by a point, in January 2008).
It will be interesting to see whether playing at new McCamish Pavilion -- re-named after the $50 million renovation to the old Alexander Memorial Coliseum -- will have any impact.
The Yellow Jackets (14-10, 4-8 ACC) have won four of seven games after starting their ACC slate 0-5, and the three losses during their current streak came by a combined eight points. The Tar Heels (17-8, 7-5), meanwhile, have become more aggressive of late and are trying to hold on to one of the top four slots in the ACC standings.
A few things to watch during Tuesday's 9 p.m. ET game:
Since being inserted into the starting lineup, the UNC sophomore has averaged 26 points and 7.5 rebounds over his last two games, and he has solidified his place in UNC’s smaller opening five. Asked Monday if matchups dictate the size of the Tar Heels’ rotation or how often they can use a four-guard lineup, UNC coach Roy Williams indicated that how his team is playing trumps that.
“I think that we've done some things these last two games that have helped us, so we're not going to go back to exactly like we were before, because I think during the course of the entire season you always see some things change with your team that will drive you in different directions,’’ Williams said during Monday’s ACC conference call. “So we're constantly looking at different combinations, different lineups.
“We change lineups in practice every three plays, sometimes every two plays in practice. So the combinations that we put out there, we do that a lot. But as you go along during the course of the season, your team tells you some things, and your team shows you some things that are working better than some other things were. So I think it's an evolution throughout the course of the whole season, [and] evolution of your team to try to find the best players and the best combinations."
The positive of having seven different players lead you in scoring over the last five weeks: Foes have to pay attention to pretty much everyone. The negative, in the case of the Yellow Jackets: No player is averaging double figures in ACC play, and only one, freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt, is averaging double digits (10.8) for the season.
Junior Kammeon Holsey led the Jackets with 18 points off the bench when UNC won at the Smith Center last month, and coach Brian Gregory said his rebuilding squad is playing better since then.
“The freshmen have done a good job of growing up on the court just as players and understanding the urgency that you have to play with every possession in this league,’’ he said. “And we are still at our best when our upperclassmen play well for us.”
If this one is tight enough to come down to foul shots -- well, it could be ugly.
This will be a battle of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league, as UNC is connecting on 65 percent and Georgia Tech 63.9. Watch out for the clanks.