CHAPEL HILL – Prior to the UNCmen’s basketball team’s rematch with rival Duke Saturday, Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams discussed the importance of the rivalry and midseason changes to both teams’ starting lineups.

“Playing Duke is a huge game,” says Williams. “To me it’s the biggest stage in regular season college basketball, so you want to win that game because it’s that game. I don’t think anybody is going to set back afterwards and pat you on the back.  We’ve won this game before, and as soon as this game’s over with, I try to find out how the other teams in the league did, where we finished, and when we play next week.”

In UNC’s win over Maryland in College Park earlier this week, two of Carolina’s starters, P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo, missed short stretches of the game because of injuries.

Although McAdoo was able to return to the game Wednesday, Williams says he didn’t practice with the team yesterday.

“James Michael did nothing yesterday, and I am concerned about him,” says Williams. “Yesterday was just shooting—we were on the court for a total of 40 minutes stretching and doing a few things like that and had a nice little shooting period. We’re just going to have to wait on James Michael, but yesterday he did nothing and could do nothing.”

Williams inserted Hairston into the starting lineup for the first matchup between the teams. Although the Heels lost that game at Cameron 73-68, they have won six straight going into Saturday’s rematch, including 5 by double-digits. Williams says it was no coincidence that he made the lineup change before the last Duke game.

“The timing did seem to be good for it at that moment because they didn’t have Ryan,” says Williams.  “They had very good players who we’re starting in place of Ryan, but inexperienced players that were not going to be the focal point of their offense. That was a good game to try it because their guys that were replacing Ryan were not going to shoot it 50 times.”

Duke has also made a recent lineup change, but under different circumstances. Senior forward Ryan Kelly missed 13 games with a foot injury, but returned in time for the team’s battle with ACC-leading Miami. Kelly scored 36 points on just 14 shots in the win.

Williams says that Kelly improves the Devils in a variety of ways.

“Their team changes drastically,” says Williams. “You’ve got a huge shot of adrenaline two weeks before the tournament starts. And a guy who, according to Mike, may have been their best team defender, gives them another rebounder, a guy who takes charges or blocks shots, and who scores 36 points in the first game back. That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Duke is 17-0 when Kelly starts, including 4-0 against top 5 opponents.

The Tar Heels and Blue Devils will tipoff at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Smith Center. Our pregame coverage on WCHL begins at 7 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff with Ron Stutts.