MBB FINAL: UNC 90 – DAV 72 — Click for Recap

Meeks, Defense Dominate As Tar Heels Handle Davidson

It may be early in the season, but the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s defense already has the makings of being something quite special.

It sure looked that way on Saturday afternoon as the No. 6 ranked Tar Heels handled Davidson 90-72. at Time Warner Cable Arena.

UNC improved to 3-0 by holding the Wildcats to a shade below 34 percent shooting overall and taking a double-digit lead in the first half that was never really threatened by Bob McKillop’s team, which fell to 2-1.

“I thought it was our best defensive game of the season,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams says. “I was very pleased with their effort.”

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Peyton Aldridge sizzled in the early going, however, netting eight of his game-high 25 points in the first 4:15 of the contest as the ‘Cats took a 12-7 lead.

The Tar Heels then started to exert command, going on an 8-0 run punctuated by a Marcus Paige layup and Theo Hinson dunk for a 15-12 advantage.

Jordan Barham’s layup brought the Wildcats within 18-16 near the midway point of the opening half, but the Tar Heels went on a 28-16 run to take a 46-34 lead into the break.

Kennedy Meeks was the key component to the Tar Heels success, dominating down low with three layups in the stretch while the Wildcats settled for mostly outside jumpers.

Meeks had a monster game in finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals and two blocks. He was joined in double-figure scoring by Justin Jackson (18), Marcus Paige (13) and J.P. Tokoto (10).

Jackson says defense came first, despite his individual scoring outburst.

“Our biggest thing was to cover the three-point line since that was their game plan,” Jackson says. “We kept after it and didn’t pay attention to the scoreboard either.”

Aldridge had little help from his Wildcats teammates as Tyler Kalinoski dropped in 12 points but shot just 4 of 18 from the field. Fellow guard Brian Sullivan really struggled, missing all eight of his three-point attempts.

The Tar Heels maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half, despite Aldridge’s terrific shooting. He drilled  a pair of consecutive treys to bring Davidson within 52-44 about five minutes into the second half.

It was all UNC from there, with a Paige three-pointer and Jackson jumper making it 61-46 with 12:16 remaining. Williams was able to draw from his reserves in the closing minutes, as 12 Tar Heels saw action.

Nate Britt, who scored five points in 14 minutes said it’s important everyone contribute for the Tar Heels to continue being successful.

“I think the most impressive thing about our team so far is how much depth we have,” Britt says. “We have a lot of people who can play a lot of different positions.”

And play those positions well too, judging by the early results. Next up for the Tar Heels comes a game against Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas starting Wednesday.



UNC Volleyball Climbs Four Spots After Classic Sweep

The UNC volleyball team jumped four spots in this week’s national rankings after sweeping its opponents in the Carolina Classic over the weekend.


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The AVCA Coaches’ voted the Tar Heels into the No. 13 spot after a hard-fought meeting with then-No. 16 Kentucky opened the weekend. The Tar Heels, then ranked No. 17, pulled off the five-set victory with a 16-14 final set. The Wildcats took sets two and three in dominating fashion (25-15 in each), but the Heels answered with a 25-13 set four to force the deciding set.

The weekend’s remaining games was a breeze comparatively as Carolina swept Georgia Southern and VCU on double-header Saturday.

UNC is 7-1 on the season and on a five-match winning streak after its 3-0 loss to Illinois in the Illini Classic on August 30.

The Tar Heels remain home this weekend for the ACC-Big 12 Classic. Oklahoma comes to town Friday, and Carolina hosts West Virginia on Saturday. Both matches begin at 6:00 p.m.


UNC Men’s Soccer Takes Over No. 1 In CSN Poll

The UNC men’s soccer team surpassed the only team it has fallen to this season and now sits in the top spot in the nation, according to a recent poll.

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College Soccer News ranked North Carolina No. 1 in the nation Monday after its 3-0 ACC win against Pittsburgh on Friday in Chapel Hill.

That win propelled the Tar Heels past the former No. 1, UCLA Bruins, who the Heels lost to, 1-0 in the Carolina Nike Classic on August 31.

The Bruins’ recent scoring woes helped contribute to the shift: UCLA is coming off a pair of 0-0 ties to Santa Clara and Cal Poly over the weekend.

Notre Dame held the No. 2 spot before Monday’s poll but fell to No. 4 after a 1-0 loss to Kentucky last Monday. Washington sits in the No. 3 spot, moving up two; Virginia rounds out the top five falling one spot.

The Tar Heels are back on the road and out of conference play Tuesday against William and Mary. That game can be seen on NSCAATV with the kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.


UNC Men’s Basketball Schedule Released

The UNC men’s basketball team eases into its 2014-15 campaign, but the newly released schedule is highlighted by some high-level opponents.

View the Schedule

The new 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with talent bringing Louisville to the mix this year after Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined last year. The Tar Heels face the Cardinals in a home-and-home conference series this season; Carolina faces Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Smith Center and will travel to Pittsburgh.

Only one of the UNC-Duke matchups is scheduled to be carried on both ESPN and the ACC Network this year. The rivalry is the only contest carried by two networks. The ACC Network could very well still pick up the season finale in Chapel Hill on March 7.

Out of conference, the Tar Heels travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Wildcats in mid-December. Last year, Kentucky traveled to Chapel Hill where Carolina handed out the 82-77 defeat of Wildcats.

McAdoo Emerges as ‘Giant Killer’ Carolina Edges Kentucky 82-77

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, UNC travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. Carolina opens the tournament on Paradise Island against Butler and will face two other opponents out of the group of Oklahoma, UCLA, UAB, Florida, Georgetown, or Wisconsin.

Those dying to get to basketball season, you’ll be happy. Late Night with Roy comes three weeks earlier this year. The unofficial season tipoff is October 3.

Tar Heel Take: Late Night with Roy

The ACC officially announced the 2014-15 schedules Wednesday.


Tar Heel Baseball Roll Continues with Midweek Davidson Stroll

The No. 15 North Carolina baseball team downed Davidson 10-3 Wednesday at Boshamer Stadium to record it seventh straight win and improve to 8-3 on the year.

With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 3-6 on the season.

UNC sophomore Reilly Hovis earned his second win of the season with three scoreless and hitless innings, striking out five.

The Tar Heels blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth when Davidson struggled to find the plate with its pitches and Carolina scored four runs off an Adrian Chacon RBI, a sac fly, wild pitch and a Wildcat error.

Carolina led 6-1 and would go on to tally four more runs to secure the comfortable midweek victory.

Skye Bolt went 1-2 for UNC with a trio of walks and a run scored. He also made a diving grab at the wall to steal extra bases from Davidson in the eighth inning.

Next up for the Tar Heels is an ACC opening series against ACC newcomer Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.

Final Box Score


Tar Heel Baseball Takes On Davidson Wildcats In Final ACC Tune-Up

The No. 16 Tar Heel baseball team, 7-3 on the season, faces a midweek test Wednesday for a 3 p.m. first pitch at Boshamer Stadium against the 3-5 Davidson Wildcats.

Carolina comes into the contest off a series sweep of North Florida, where the Tar Heel pitching staff carried the day. Sophomore ace Trent Thornton threw 7.2 scoreless innings while freshman Zac Gallen recorded his first career collegiate win.

WCHL will chat with UNC’s Thornton Friday morning at 7:20 a.m. during the Morning News.

Davidson is coming off a 2-1 series loss to Miami (OH) and will be looking to rebound in Chapel Hill. The Wildcats narrowly missed out on an upset victory over No. 8 N.C. State earlier in the season.

Wednesday’s game will be the final tune-up for the Tar Heels before embarking on their ACC campaign against Pittsburgh this weekend.


Primetime Paige Thrives in Pressure Cooker

CHAPEL HILL– There was one pervasive question circulating throughout the Dean Smith Center for much of UNC’s 97-85 overtime victory over Davidson Saturday: Where was Marcus Paige?

***Listen to the story***


Stunningly, the sophomore guard was held scoreless for the entirety of the first half and much of the second half against the Wildcats. In his absence, J.P. Tokoto luckily filled his shoes on the way to a career high night of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Paige says he just wasn’t himself early on and felt tired out on the court.

“It’s kind of a long week. We had a couple tough practices and a physical game against Texas. It took me a while to kind of get into the game. I just didn’t feel like myself for thirty minutes. It was tough,” Paige says.

But late in the second half, and especially with the game hanging in the balance in the waning minutes of regulation and overtime, Paige emerged. With 8:17 left on the game clock, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer entered the show ring, and he made up for lost time.

Paige finished with 17 points, and scored 11 of UNC’s 18 points in overtime as he sealed the deal when it mattered most.

Paige says he relishes the crucial moments of the game and feels at home when everything is on the line.

“I couldn’t really find any energy the whole game. Crunch time and overtime, I love that – the big moment. When the game’s on the line, that’s when it gets really fun,” Paige says.

James Michael McAdoo says Paige really stepped up and led the team’s gutsy drive to pull out the win.

“Marcus, I think he was scoreless in the first half, but played phenomenal and really led us to the win in the second half,” McAdoo says.

Paige says he was just happy to have a little bit of energy left in him for the strong finish that denied Davidson the upset bid.

“I guess I just had a little bit left in the tank that I found. I was able to get some things to go,” Paige says.

The clutch play of Paige will likely come in handy as the Tar Heels inch closer to ACC play in the New Year.



No. 14 Carolina Rebounds, Downs Davidson in 97-85 Overtime Thriller

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team defeated the Davidson Wildcats 97-85 in an overtime thriller Saturday evening in the Dean Smith Center.

The Tar Heels improved to 8-3 on the season while the struggling Wildcats dropped to 4-8. It was a closer than expected battle thanks in large part to Wildcat Brian Sullivan. The sophomore guard scored 33 points.

JP Tokoto led the way for Carolina with 22 points, a career high. And Marcus Paige emerged down the stretch, despite a scoreless first half, to help guide Carolina to the gutsy win.

The Tar Heels were without the services of Joel James as he is expected to be out 10-14 days with an MCL sprain in his right knee. Brice Johnson got the start in place of James.

Carolina won the opening tip, but failed to convert on an easy layup attempt. A turnover caused by Tokoto stopped the Davidson attack as both teams jockeyed for early control in a scoreless affair over a minute into the contest.

Davidson’s Chris Czerapowicz scored the first bucket of the game to give the Wildcats the 2-0 lead. Brice Johnson pivoted, but got caught under the backboard on the next possession. He was called for travel.

Tyler Kalinoski added another score for the Wildcats, but Tokoto answered with a nice basket of his own to place the score at 5-2 in favor of the visiting Wildcats, coached by veteran Bob McKillop.

Tokoto slammed one home to get the crowd into the game and close the Tar Heels within a single point with 16:11 on the first half clock.

The crowd gave James Michael McAdoo a rousing cheer when he managed to make both of his free throw attempts following his debacle at the line a game ago against Texas. With 15:15 left in the half, Davidson was tied with Carolina at 9-9.

Kennedy Meeks layed one in to get his first points of the day, and give Carolina the 11-9 edge. Davidson pressured UNC inside on the other end, drawing a foul on Tokoto. The Wildcats made both foul shots to get the tie at 11.

McAdoo was very active on the glass and was making some nice defensive plays as well early on. Next up, Nate Britt knocked down a shot to contribute to UNC’s score count.

With 13:03 on the clock, the Tar Heels had the 15-12 advantage. But Davidson’s Brian Sullivan knocked down a smooth floater to cut the lead to a single point. The Wildcats were shooting lights out from the floor with nearly a sixty percent shooting percentage.

Sullivan was at it again, already into double figures when he nailed a long-range three-pointer to push his Wildcats back in front in this topsy-turvy game.

Leslie McDonald tied the score at 19 with his smooth three-pointer for UNC. Tokoto continued to slash his way around the court, earning a trip to the free throw line, making one of two. Carolina had the 24-19 lead with under 10 minutes to play in the half when McAdoo ran down the floor for layup off a Wildcat turnover.

Tokoto got to the line with some physical play in the paint. The sophomore forward made them both. UNC led Davidson 26-21 with 7:56 left in the half.

Meeks banked the ball in the hoop with 6:43 on the clock to give Carolina the 28-22 advantage. Some crisp passing was befuddling the Wildcats.

A layup from Jackson Simmons off a beautiful pass from McAdoo put UNC up 31-22 and forced a Davidson timeout at 6:05 on the clock.

After the timeout, Davidson responded. Sullivan launched another bomb from the outside and hit his target. With 4:24 left in the half, the Tar Heels maintained a slim 33-29 lead.

Tokoto was putting together a great game. He scored again to give Carolina the 37-31 lead with 1:38 left in the half.

A flagrant foul was called on Davidson, giving McAdoo a trip to the free throw line. He connected one one of the attempts.

At the half, it was Carolina clinging to a slim 38-35 lead. Tokoto had posted 14 points to lead the Tar Heels. Marcus Paige was surprisingly held scoreless in the opening half. Overall, UNC shot 37.1 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from the foul line.

Meanwhile for Davidson, Sullivan was leading the scorers with 13 points. The Wildcats were shooting 50 percent from the floor, but a mere 33.3 percent from the foul line.

To start the second half, McAdoo got to a familiar place, the foul line. He made one of them to get to double figures on the night. Sullivan continued his impressive shooting with a three-pointer to get the Wildcats within one, and then they took the lead with another make to go up 41-39 with 18:31 left in the game.

Britt made a quick bounce pass to Tokoto inside to grab the tie for the Tar Heels. But a goal tending call on the other end pushed the Wildcats ahead once again at 43-41.

Another three-point dagger by Sullivan put Davidson up 46-42 with 16:36 to play. McDonald then dished it inside to Meeks for a score to reduce the arrears.

Paige continued to struggle offensively on this night. Another shot bounded off the rim, and with 15:38 remaining, Carolina was down 46-44 to Davidson.

Head Coach Roy Williams was visibly upset court side with his team’s play. Davidson extended the lead out to 49-44.

McAdoo drew a foul and made both his free throws to the delight of the crowd. The game flipped on its head when McAdoo converted on a steal and Meeks responded with a make of his own inside to push the Tar Heels ahead 50-49 with 14:30 left in the game.

Davidson called a timeout with 12:46 remaining. At that stage, UNC had the 52-51 edge.

Meeks was at it again, using his size as a strength to bully his way to a score, but the Wildcats answered the score immediately.

McDonald stepped to the foul line with 11:55 left in the contest. McDonald knocked down both attempts.

Tokoto tipped the ball through the nets to ignite the crowd and give the Tar Heels a 58-53 margin. And Johnson followed that up with a rebound and a score as UNC began to establish its authority in the Smith Center.

A nice drive for a score by Czerapowicz kept the Wildcats in the game with a shout. Meeks delivered for the Tar Heels, though, nabbing one of his two foul shots.

Tokoto continued his fine play on a career night in scoring. he made both of his free throws in his trip to the charity stripe. And with under nine minutes to play, UNC held a 63-57 lead.

McAdoo netted another bucket, but another three by Sullivan got him to a career-high level. The Tar Heels couldn’t shake the resilient Davidson squad.. It was a 67-65 nail-biter.

A timeout at the 6:12 mark provided an opportunity for both teams to reorganize for the home stretch. Carolina was up 69-65.

Sullivan had amassed 26 points, a career high. Somehow, he was continually finding ways to get open. The score was knotted up at 69 with 5:00 remaining when McAdoo assumed his spot on the foul line.

Paige was scoreless no more when he layed one in to get the fans on their feet. But a disappointing evening for Brice Johnson came to an end when he picked up his fifth foul, taking a seat on the bench in frustration.

Davidson took the lead 73-72 with under three minutes in the game. The tension was palpable in the Dean Dome. Meeks was put back on the court to add some size to the Tar Heel lineup.

And it worked out immediately. Meeks scored on a nice dish and picked up a foul on the play. But he missed on the opportunity for a three-point play.

Sullivan slid in another outside shot from behind the arc to get the two-point lead for Davidson. And a pass slipped through McDonald’s hands to give the ball back to the Wildcats.

McDonald fouled out for the first time in his career on a controversial charge call. McAdoo tied up the game at 76 with under a minute to play.

But Davidson went ahead again with an easy score on the other end. Britt earned a trip to the foul line to try to tie up the game yet again. But the freshman could not convert on both, only coming good on one.

With 38.4 ticks left on the clock, Paige forced the ball inside to draw a foul and get to the stripe for the first time on the night. He made both of the shots in clutch fashion. It was tied at 79 points.

Davidson could hold for the last shot, and some good defensive pressure forced Sullivan to take Davidson’s final timeout.

Of course, Sullivan got the final shot, but it clanged off the rim as time expired. Overtime play was coming.

Paige opened up the extra period with a score, darting to the basket. Britt followed his lead with an impressive jumper that swished through the nets. Carolina grabbed the 83-79 lead with 3:46 left in overtime.

Paige had finally emerged. He got back to the foul line and made both. Marcus Paige took the roof off the Dean Dome roof with an electric three-pointer that gave UNC an 88-80 lead with 2:34 to go in the overtime period.

Sullivan starting misfiring on his normally reliable outside shooting. The momentum had swung in favor of Carolina.

In the end, UNC did just enough to escape with the win, displaying some tenacious play down the stretch to deny the Wildcats the upset.



McAdoo Emerges as ‘Giant Killer’ Carolina Edges Kentucky 82-77

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels scraped their way to a gritty  82-77 victory over the No.10 Kentucky Wildcats in a raucous atmosphere inside the Dean Smith Center Saturday evening to improve to 7-2 on the year.

The enigmatic James Michael McAdoo displayed some much needed poise under pressure with 20 points and Marcus Paige made some clutch shots down the stretch in his leading contribution of  22 points  to guide Carolina to another impressive victory on the national stage.

Kentucky’s physicality was in full display, but Carolina managed to record their third win over a top ten team in the young season despite missing a whopping 19 missed foul shots. These Tar Heels seemingly save their best play for the best competition.

The Wildcats won the opening tip-off, but a turnover handed the ball to Carolina. The crowd was in full voice early in the game.

The first strike was delivered by Aaron Harrison of Kentucky on a slash inside and an athletic finish. J.P. Tokoto missed an open jumper on the other end, but  James Michael McAdoo drew a foul on a drive into the basket to earn a trip to the foul line with 18:09 on the clock.

McAdoo made both free throws to tie the score up at two before Kentucky responded with a bucket inside. But Tokoto had the answer with a score of his own for the Tar Heels.

Nate Britt grabbed a nice steal for Carolina, but Paige missed an open three-point attempt. The score was 7-4 in favor of the visiting Wildcats when a time out was called with 15:53 remaining in the first half.

Wildcat Andrew Harrison picked up a score and a foul on a make off the glass to push UK ahead 9-4. But Brice Johnson knocked down a shot for UNC to ignite the crowd. It was Johnson to the rescue again with  an earned trip to the line. But, he shockingly missed both free throws.

Tokoto made an outside three-pointer to tie the game at 9 points apiece with under 14 minutes on the first half clock. Alex Pothress broke the tie for the Wildcats on the next possession.

A pair of free throws for Wildcat James Young extended the UK lead to 13-9. But spark plug Johnson slammed one home to a loud eruption in the Smith Center to close the Tar Heels within 14-10 when time was called with 11:48 left in the half. Tokoto’s previous shot was ruled a two-pointer after reviewing video.

McAdoo made a jumper despite a tough foul on the shot. The game was becoming a rugged slugfest with the score at 14-12 when McAdoo missed the free throw.

McAdoo earned another trip to the line, and this time he managed to make both despite an ugly second shot. The Tar Heels turned Kentucky over on the other end and the score was 19-16 with just under nine minutes left in the first half.

Tokoto swished through a three-pointer to get the Tar Heel crowd on their feet. The intensity was picking up on both sides of the floor for Carolina, but Kentucky maintained a slim 20-19 lead with 7:35 on the clock.

Kennedy Meeks failed to convert on a free throw opportunity, and Willie Cauley-Stein made the Tar Heels pay on the other end with a nice follow-up shot off a miss to score for the Wildcats.

It didn’t take McAdoo long to get back to the free throw line. He made one. An electric run down the floor for Tokoto resulted in a lay-up off a sharp pass from McAdoo to get UNC back within one at 23-22 with 5:53 to play in the first half.

Joel James scored and Tokoto followed with a score of his own to give Carolina a 26-23 lead at the 5:13 mark. And some solid work on the defensive end stymied Kentucky, and Carolina had a 29-25 lead with 3:29 on the first half clock.

Wildcat Andrew Harrison got to the line and mad one free throw while Carolina’s offense stalled out. A dunk by Cauley-Stein tied the game with a few ticks on the clock. Head Coach John Calipari got a technical foul when he refused to stop berating the officials. Marcus Paige made a pair of free throws and McAdoo added one. The score stood at 33-30 Carolina at the half.

Kentucky opened proceedings in the final half of play with a some made foul shots. Carolina maintained a 35-32 lead with 18:22 left in the game. Paige layed one in inside and James tapped in another bucket to push the lead to 39-34 in favor of Carolina.

Young got to the free throw line for Kentucky  and made both to get his Wildcats within a pair of points with 16:54 left in the game.

Aaron Harrison tied the score at 39 with a break away lay in for Kentucky as the Tar Heel intensity was seeming to wane, allowing the Wildcats to gain momentum. The fouls kept flowing on Carolina players, and Kentucky was cashing in at the charity stripe, taking the lead at 40-39.

Paige stole the ball and returned it all the way to the basket to regain the lead for the Tar Heels when a time out was called with 15:21 on the clock.

The lead traded hands again when Harrison nailed a couple foul shots for Kentucky. Meeks was sent to the line on the other end, but the free throw woes continued for the Tar Heels. Meeks only converted on one to tie the game.

Harrison muscled his way inside to bank the ball in for the Wildcats and then he made another jumper. But the Tar Heels answered the bell by tying the game at 46 and then taking the lead on a Paige steal and layup to place Carolina ahead 48-46 with 13:25 left in the contest.

Britt scored inside for Carolina off a transition play to give the Tar Heels a 50-46 lead before Harrison banked one in on the other end.

The pace of play was accelerating into a feverish rate that had both programs gasping for breath at the time out with 11:34 left on the clock. The Tar Heels held a 54-48 lead.

McAdoo knocked in a fade-away jumper to maintain a six-point cushion for Carolina. McAdoo definitely was making his presence known in today’s game. But a recurring theme of getting to the foul line was becoming a factor for Kentucky, Their size and physicality was noticeable.

McAdoo drew a foul on UK’s Julius Randle and converted on one of the attempts. A nice drive inside  for a score by UK’s Harrison soon followed.

Some confusion developed on the offensive side of the court for Carolina. The Tar Heels turned it over. But they managed to shrug it off with an electric three-pointer by Marcus Paige to give them a 60-54 lead with 8:05 to play.

Britt drew a foul inside and converted on both of his shots to move Carolina ahead 62-54 with 6:52 remaining. Kentucky answered with a score to cut the deficit to a mere six points.

An impressive floater by Paige got the crowd on their feet. A defensive stop coupled with a McAdoo make really exploded the Smith Center. Carolina had built a 66-58 lead with 5:25 on the clock with some determined, gritty play.

A controversial call at the 4:40 mark gave UK a free trip to the foul line. But Young failed to make either. But he made a three-pointer off a rebound to make up for it. It was a five point game.

Paige drew a crucial foul with 3:00 remaining as time was called. Carolina held a 66-63 lead. Paige didn’t miss the shots. Carolina extended its lead.

Coach Roy Williams called a time out to collect his players with 2:07 left in the game. It worked. Paige made a clutch shot and Johnson emphatically slammed a dunk home. Carolina made enough stops down the stretch to emerge victorious in a hard-fought affair.



Carolina Blue Meets Big Blue as Storied Programs Collide

CHAPEL HILL– After a year hiatus from the rivalry, the No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels are again ready to take on No. 10 Kentucky in a Saturday home showdown between two of the top three winningest college basketball programs in history.

With exams now in the rear view mirror, the 6-2 Tar Heels can turn their full attention to the task at hand: beating a third top ten team of the season.

Carolina’s Joel James has earned a spot in the starting lineup. Head Coach Roy Williams says James is a work in progress, but he’s been impressed with his improved defensive performance.

“He’s consistently done some really good things defensively. He was the defensive player of the game against Michigan State. He had a good defensive grade against UNC-Greensboro. He gives us the size and the power to help control the rim area quite a bit better than we did last year. He is a project, which is okay. I love that part of him,” Coach Williams says.

Carolina leads the all-time series against the Wildcats 22-13, but Kentucky squeaked out a 73-72 win in Rupp Arena in 2011.

Coach Williams says what stands out most about this year’s edition is the ability of UK Coach John Calipari to get his young, highly touted athletes to play together as a team.

“John’s [Calipari] ability, the way he’s got them playing together. You know freshmen coming in with all the hoopla that they have tended to a lot of times try to live up that. I think John has proven many years, that he can get highly skilled players and get them to focus on the team aspect of it,” Coach Williams says.

Coach Williams knows how tough the game will be on Saturday as he says he tried extremely hard to recruit a couple of Kentucky’s young stars himself.

“They are an unselfish bunch. That part is going to get better and better and better. I just think when you have gifted kids, I mean, there is a lot of guys on that list that I tried to recruit. And a couple of them I tried really, really hard to recruit,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore Marcus Paige gives some insight into the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ mentality of the Tar Heels so far this season. He says it’s just easier to compete at the highest level when facing the toughest competition.

“I think whenever you play a really highly ranked team or a big-time program, you just automatically have that. You still have to bring it against those other teams. But it’s a lot easier to get up for a game as big as the one we have Saturday or as big as the ones that we’ve won. I’d want to say that we’d come with the same approach every game, but honestly as a competitor, that’s just not the case,” Paige says.

Carolina will certainly be facing a hungry and supremely talented Wildcat team Saturday. So should Tar Heel Nation expect another top-notch performance from Carolina? We will see soon enough.