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February 2, 2013

Heels return home to face Hokies

North Carolina received a scare earlier this week with the injury to P.J. Hairston but were able to overcome the hurdle and come together as a team to defeat Boston College Tuesday Night.

Now, the Tar Heels (14-6, 4-3) will have two games at home, starting with a matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies (11-9, 2-5).

Virginia Tech is currently on a three game losing streak, with its most recent loss coming against Miami on Wednesday.

Hairston has been ruled out with a concussion already, but Leslie McDonald will return for the Tar Heels on Saturday after serving a three game suspension.

"No (shaking his head)..no, hasn't done a thing," Roy Williams replied about Hairston playing this week. "Well he came and sat, watched yesterday and laughed at some of my jokes during practice, so he (Hairston) is trying to suck up."

Williams later talked about the significance of McDonald returning to the rotation.

"Well, if you don't have P.J., that means you're losing one of your good shooters. When we loss Leslie, P.J.'s numbers sort of picked up" Williams replied.

"So now it's just a 180 degrees away from that same kind of thing. Leslie has got to give us some points from deep hopefully to stretch their defense or if he wants to take it to the basket and dunk it, I don't care. But we do need him to score but we also need him to do a good job defensively."

North Carolina has swept Virginia Tech each of the last two seasons, and have won 25 of the last 28 meetings in the series.

Tip off will be at noon on Saturday, with the game being aired on ESPN3.


GREEN VIRGINIA'S SCORING MACHINE


If you haven't heard of the name yet, let me introduce him to you. Erick Green has been dominating the competition not only in the ACC, but in almost every game he has played this year.

Green has been putting up staggering numbers that seem to be hard to believe at times.

A year ago Green was one of the top guards in the ACC, scoring 15.6 points per game and shooting 43 percent from the field.

But now, Green has sky rocketed his stats and is not only the leading scorer in the ACC, but the leading scorer in the nation, averaging 25.5 points a game while shooting 49 percent from the field (averaging 27.4 points in ACC play).

One might think that he is a guard with an outside shot, someone that mirrors the game of possibly a Jimmer Fredette or J.J. Redick.

A guard that can stroke it from beyond the three point line while finding other ways to get the ball in his hands.

However, with such staggering numbers, one might be surprised by how Green has worked his magic this year. Here are some key points about how he has produced at such a high level.

- In 20 games this year, Green has only scored under 20 points once (against BYU).

- Green has also played 30+ minutes in 19 of the 20 games.

- Even though averaging 25 points a game, Green has only made 4 or more three pointers in three games (made five against Miami and have made 35 total.).

- In nine games, Green shot 10 or more free throw shots, shooting 81.6 percent from the line.

- Averaging 16.7 shot attempts a game this year, while still shooting 49 percent from the field (Green has scored more points already that he did all of last year (509)).


Williams knows that stopping Green might be impossible, as so many other teams have tried to do that same but have failed.

"Every team they've played, they're trying to stop him,'' Williams said. "He's leading the ACC in scoring, he's shooting 50 percent from the floor in conference games. As a guard, he's just having a tremendous, tremendous year, and this is the kind of year you dream of your guards having, and we just have got to try to slow him down a little bit."

The way the Tar Heels have to look at him is constantly trying to put pressure on him, forcing him to either pass the ball or force up a shot.

Look for multiple guys to guard Green on Saturday, trying to rotate fresh bodies on him to wear him down.


STOPPING THE SECOND OPTION


When facing Virginia Tech, UNC knows the Hokies will always revolve its offense around Green, as mentioned before. Stopping Green is a big task, but the Tar Heels will try to limit his scoring and touches in the game.

However, what the Tar Heels need to focus on is not allowing the Hokies' second, third, or fourth option to have a great or decent game in the Dean Dome.

If Green has to do it all himself, Tech is at a huge disadvantage.

Jarell Eddie, a 6-7 junior forward, is the main guy down low for the Hokies, as he is averaging 14.4 points per game, while grabbing 6.4 rebounds a game.

After that though, head coach James Johnson plays eight other players that receive significant minutes, but none average double digits in points per game.

Not allowing Johnson's other options besides Green and Eddie to score for the Hokies could certainly earn UNC the victory on Saturday.

In the game against the Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Tech led at halftime 32-29, before eventually losing 73-64 on Jan. 30.

Besides Green and Eddie, who combined for 44 points, the bench were only able to contribute 20 points, with Robert Brown and Cadarian Raines scoring 18 of those points.

Williams didn't know about VT's recent struggles putting up points, but he knows that they can be a good team. Williams talked about the Hokies in Friday's Press Conference and what they are capable of doing on the court.

"You know they have shooters and they can run. Marquis Rankin does a nice job when Erick's off the ball, and Jarell Eddie and Brown both can score, so they have the ability on the perimeter to run."

The Tar Heels will undoubtedly look to push the tempo against the Hokies, putting pressure on Johnson and his squad to produce points

As mentioned before, this will be the first of two homes games for the Tar Heels, as UNC faces Wake Forest next Tuesday night.

After that, the road for UNC becomes a little harder, as UNC travels to No. 14 Miami and then to Cameron Indoor to face off with No. 5 Duke.

Games such as this one can't be ones that the Tar Heels slip up on, especially in the Smith Center.





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