North Carolina Tar Heels: Travis McKie

The Tar Heels vs. the ACC

October, 30, 2013
The Tar Heels were picked to finish third in the ACC behind Duke and Syracuse by a media poll. The league's depth this season should make it so that wins and losses will be as hard as ever to predict. With that in mind, here are advantages and disadvantages for the Heels against each of their league opponents:


Advantage: The Heels should again enjoy a big rebounding edge over the Eagles.

Disadvantage: Stopping guard Olivier Hanlan (the ACC’s 2013 Freshman of the Year) will be a challenge.


Advantage: Um, history? The only meeting is in Chapel Hill, where it’s Heels 56, Tigers 0.

Disadvantage: Complacency knowing their undefeated record vs. Clemson at home.


Advantage: Frontcourt should dominate Blue Devils’ glaring weakness in the paint.

Disadvantage: Matching up with Duke wings Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon and Jabari Parker.


Advantage: P.J. Hairston has averaged 18.2 points in four career games vs. the Noles.

Disadvantage: No. 3 Heels lost by 33 at unranked FSU in 2012 -- anything can happen in Tallahassee.


Advantage: James Michael McAdoo stung the Jackets with an 18-point, 10-rebound average last season.

Disadvantage: Tennessee transfer Trae Golden adds experience to a talented young lineup.


Advantage: Avoiding final trip to College Park during the Terps’ year-long ACC swan song.

Disadvantage: Terps will likely be more motivated to win in their final shot at UNC.


Advantage: The Canes are starting from scratch with a completely overhauled roster.

Disadvantage: Unknown commodities can be hard to prepare against.


Advantage: State will have fewer offensive weapons to defend than last season.

Disadvantage: T.J. Warren (14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds per game vs. Heels last season) is still one of them.


Advantage: McAdoo presents matchup problem for the Irish frontcourt.

Disadvantage: South Bend is poised to become one of the most difficult places to play in the ACC.


Advantage: UNC can use its fast pace to bury a team not known for running.

Disadvantage: The Heels typically encounter trouble against teams as physical as Pitt.


Advantage: The starting lineups are about even, so deeper Heels bench could be key to beating Orange.

Disadvantage: The length of the Cuse zone is hard to play against the first time.


Advantage: Marcus Paige, who enjoyed a 17-point breakout game vs. Cavs last season, should own the point guard matchup.

Disadvantage: Joe Harris is a problem. He shot 70 percent from the field and averaged 23 points in two meetings last season.


Advantage: Young Hokies still don’t have an abundance of talent (or the defense) to compete at a high level.

Disadvantage: Two of Tech’s three wins vs. Heels since joining the ACC came in Blacksburg, the site of their only meeting this season.


Advantage: The Heels have won seven of the last nine meetings with Deacs by an average margin of 20 points.

Disadvantage: Travis McKie and Devin Thomas are a formidable rebounding duo.

Wake Forest at UNC: What to watch

February, 5, 2013
Tuesday night’s game against Wake Forest concludes what was supposed to be one of the “easier” week-long stretches, schedule-wise, for North Carolina, considering its matchups with three squads hovering near the bottom of the ACC standings. But so far, it hasn’t been all that easy.

Last Tuesday, the Tar Heels won at Boston College -- despite losing key reserve P.J. Hairston in the first half to a concussion.

Playing without Hairston on Saturday, it took overtime to beat Erick Green and Virginia Tech at home.

And against the Deacons, they’ll likely be playing without Hairston again; not because of the concussion, but because of a flu bug that has also affected at least a couple others on the team.

Finishing this stretch strong is key for UNC (15-6, 5-3 ACC), considering what’s next: a trip to eighth-ranked Miami on Saturday, followed by a trip to No. 4 Duke, followed by a home game against Virginia (which has already beaten the Tar Heels once this season).

A few things to watch during Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. ET tipoff at the Smith Center:


All season long, the Tar Heels have been waiting for freshman point guard Marcus Paige’s shot to fall, and in a tight game against the Hokies on Saturday, it finally did -- and at just the right time.

With Hairston sidelined, and Reggie Bullock and Leslie McDonald combining to shoot 1-for-13 from the 3-point line, Paige scored eight of his career-high 19 points in overtime to help secure the victory.

He finished 6-for-14, with five assists and five rebounds.

“It was a good experience for Marcus to step up,’’ UNC coach Roy Williams said.

And something, perhaps, the young ballhandler can build upon.


Led by junior Travis McKie (15.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and senior C.J. Harris (14.5 ppg), the Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-6) have shown they have the ability to pull an upset; they beat then-No. 18 N.C. State 86-84 at home Jan. 22 in their biggest win since Jeff Bzdelik became head coach. But since then, they lost by 20 points at Georgia Tech, pushed then-fifth-ranked Duke before losing at home by five, and got blown out by 26 at Maryland.

Emotional consistency has been an issue since the beginning of the season, Bzdelik acknowledged.

“It’s been an emotional roller-coaster, and so that’s something obviously we’ve addressed,’’ he said. “As the leader, I acknowledge I have yet to find a key to their emotions to have them be right for our next opponent. That is something that is a work in progress, I can tell you that.’’


After averaging only 9 offensive rebounds in non-league play, the Demon Deacons have hit the glass harder during ACC games, and are averaging 12.2 offensive rebounds against league foes – second only to UNC. Look for some big box-outs.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

January, 11, 2013
Can we just call places 3 through 6 a tie? After the first week of ACC play, it’s harder than ever to judge the middle of the league pack. But here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke. Still undefeated, still No. 1 after victories over Wake Forest and Clemson. But the Blue Devils will be tested Saturday not only by an NC State team that has won nine in a row, but by playing without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who is out indefinitely with an injured right foot.

2. NC State. The Wolfpack was picked to win the ACC during the preseason by both media and coaches, and Saturday’s home game against the Blue Devils will show if it has what it takes to make that push. Lorenzo Brown, with 21 points against Georgia Tech, was the latest to lead his team in scoring. Who’s next?

3. Miami. The Hurricanes have never started 2-0 in the ACC -- until now. Senior forward Kenny Kadji had 18 points to help break his team’s 10-game losing streak to UNC on Thursday night, and sixth-year senior Julian Gamble (14 points against the Tar Heels) has been filling in admirably for the injured Reggie Johnson.

4. Maryland. Dez Wells had a bad shooting night, Alex Len at times got pushed around, and the Terps saw their 13-game winning streak snapped via a 12-point comeback by Florida State. Whether they bounce back at Miami this weekend could be a good indication of whether they’re a top-tier ACC team.

5. Florida State. Junior forward Okaro White has come up big during the Seminoles’ 2-0 ACC start, averaging 17.5 points and 8 rebounds. And so has his team. "We sat down, the juniors and seniors, with the young guys and told them we have to stop talking, and we have to show them how hard you have to play,’’ White told

6. Virginia. Beat North Carolina, only to lose to Wake Forest? It might be that sort of topsy-turvy season for the Cavs, who should get more and more of a boost as senior guard Jontel Evans, who returned from injury last weekend, gets more and more back in sync with the offense.

7. North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams said his team was stressed in the locker room after losing to Miami on Thursday night. And for good reason: This marks only the fourth time UNC has ever started 0-2 in the ACC, and things won’t get any easier at Florida State on Saturday.

8. Boston College. The Eagles have now won six of their past seven games, and gave NC State a scare in their only loss since Dec. 4. Sophomore Lonnie Jackson has posted double digit points for three consecutive games, including a season-high 22 at Virginia Tech.

9. Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had a six-game winning streak broken by the start of ACC play. Tech is shooting just 35.2 percent during its 0-2 conference start.

10. Wake Forest. Despite shooting just 26 percent after halftime and failing to score a field goal for the final 10 minutes, the Deacs survived Virginia’s comeback attempt. “We stayed with it,” Wake Forest forward Travis McKie told The Times-News. “I think early in the season we would’ve put our head down and had a pity party. But we stayed with it and continued to fight hard.” Wake has now won five of seven games.

11. Clemson. The Tigers scored only 10 points, on just 12 percent shooting, in the first half at Duke on Wednesday. Yikes. Devin Booker has posted two double-doubles in Clemson’s 0-2 ACC start.

12. Virginia Tech. Already-undermanned Tech was down to six scholarship players during its midweek loss to BC, thanks to illness and injury. Erick Green continues to lead the nation in scoring, but the Hokies have now lost four in a row, and are 0-2 in ACC play.
Each week, a 12-member panel votes for the ACC Player of the Week and ACC Rookie of the Week.

This week’s selections:

POW: Michael Snaer, Florida State guard: The junior averaged 16.5 points, three rebounds and 1.5 steals in wins against Maryland and at Duke. Snaer beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer Saturday to break the Blue Devils’ 45-game homecourt winning streak. He made 50 percent of his shots for the week, including 42.9 percent from behind the 3-point arc. FSU is the hottest team in the ACC right now.

ROW: Austin Rivers, Duke guard: If not for Snaer’s game-winner, Rivers might have been the hero of Saturday’s game, as he tied it before the FSU guard buried his jaw-dropping shot. Still, Rivers averaged 19.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in the loss to the Seminoles and win over Wake Forest. He made 48.1 percent of his shots last week, and has now earned ROW honors four times this season.

Other POW nominations:

Scott Wood, N.C. State forward: The Wolfpack junior averaged 18.5 points and shot 55 percent during wins against Boston College and at Miami last week. At the Hurricanes on Sunday, Wood eclipsed J.J. Redick’s ACC record for consecutive free throws made by going 7-for-7; he has now made 58 in a row.

Andre Young, Clemson guard: The senior averaged 18.5 points during a loss at Miami and win at Georgia Tech. His 29 points against the Yellow Jackets were a career high.

Dorenzo Hudson, Va. Tech guard: The senior averaged 14 points off the bench in the Hokies’ loss versus UNC, then win over Virginia. His 3-pointer from the corner with 17 seconds left gave Tech a four-point lead against the Cavaliers, and eventually its first ACC win of the season.

Travis McKie, Wake Forest forward: The sophomore averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds in a loss at Duke and win at Boston College. He ranks fourth in the ACC with 17.2 ppg.

Kenny Kadji, Miami forward: Averaged 17 points and six rebounds last weeks, shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line.

Harrison Barnes, UNC forward: The sophomore led all scorers with 27 points in UNC’s victory at Virginia Tech, scoring 21 of them in the second half. He was 8-of-14 from the floor in the game, including 6-for-6 in the second half. He also recorded six rebounds, a block and three steals.

Other ROW nominations

Robert Brown, Virginia Tech guard: In his first two starts of the season, he averaged eight points and 32.5 minutes.