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Kennedy Meeks expected to return from seven-game absence

North Carolina coach Roy Williams says he "fully expects" junior Kennedy Meeks to return to the lineup for Saturday's game at Syracuse.

Williams said Meeks, who has missed the past seven games with a bruised left knee, practiced Wednesday and Thursday, though his participation was limited.

"Today he'll go through the full practice, and if he goes through the full practice, I'll be able to play him," Williams said. "It just depends on how effective he'll be when he gets there."

Williams described Meeks' effectiveness in practice the past two days as "medium," adding that the team hasn't run much. That will change in Friday's practice, and Williams said he will then have a better idea of what to expect from Meeks.

Meeks, who started the first nine games this season, averaged 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Tar Heels before his injury. His absence has seen senior forward Brice Johnson post player of the year-type numbers. Johnson is coming off a career-high 39 points and 23 rebounds against Florida State, and he has averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds with Meeks out.

Williams was asked whether he thought Meeks' return might affect how Johnson plays.

"I don't buy into that. Brice has just played harder, run the floor more effectively," Williams said. "You could probably count in the last 10 games him running the floor and getting the ball on the break [more] than his first three years put together. I don't think it'll have much of an effect really."