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Canes Hoops: UNC Game Preview

The Canes head up to Chapel Hill for round 2 against the Tar Heels

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

For only the second time in 2019, the Canes are coming off a victory as the head into their second meeting with North Carolina Saturday afternoon. In their first matchup, the Tar Heels pulled away in the second half to leave Coral Gables with a 85-76 victory. Since then, UNC has rattled off 4 straight wins and climbed up to #8 in the polls. The Canes, on the other hand, have gone 1-4, and found out Dewan Hernandez is definitely gone for the season, all while scoring only 59.4 points per game.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Georgia Tech
Cameron Johnson has been an efficient offensive machine for the Tar Heels
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

UNC currently sits in a 3-way tie with Duke and Virginia atop the ACC at 8-1. Their last loss was on January 12th against Louisville, and the Tar Heels have been on fire ever since. On Tuesday, UNC put up a stunning 113 points against NC State, led by Luke Maye’s season-high 31 points. While Maye led them in their last win, the Tar Heels’ best player so far has been Cameron Johnson. The 6’9” senior leads the team with 16 ppg, but what makes him truly lethal is his efficiency. Johnson is hitting 52% of his shots from the field, and 48% from 3. As the Canes experienced 3 weeks ago, Johnson can quickly change the course of a game with his ability to knock down shots on consecutive possessions.

The Tar Heels have a well-rounded lineup, with the aforementioned Luke Maye putting up another solid season as one of the conference’s top rebounders with 9.9 per game along with 14.9 ppg. Freshman point guard Coby White keeps the offense humming with 15.1 ppg and 4.2 apg.

NCAA Basketball: Miami-Florida at Virginia
DJ Vasiljevic rebounded from some rough performances with a team-leading 15 points in Wednesday’s victory
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For the Canes to stay competitive in Chapel Hill, they will need their top scoring options to be on their A-game. Chris Lykes still leads Miami with 16.5 ppg, followed by grad-transfer Zach Johnson at 13.1 ppg. 3-point ace DJ Vasiljevic saw his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer snapped against UVA last Saturday, but rebounded with a solid 15-point game in the Canes’ victory over Notre Dame. Anthony Lawrence II, Ebuka Izundu and Sam Waardenburg will be tasked with holding down the interior and should have their hands full with the Tar Heels size and experience.

Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00pm ET, and you can catch the game on the ACC Network, watchESPN.com or the Watch ESPN App.

Go Canes