North Carolina (14-6, 4-3) vs. Virginia Tech (11-9, 2-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
ACCN (Tim Brant, Dan Bonner)
"In four-to-five seconds, they're trying to score. I don't know if we want to play that fast. I want to play transition, but I don't know if we're capable of playing four-to-five second offensive basketball right now." -- Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson on UNC
"They get caught up in watching Erick [Green] play and watching Erick do his thing when they've got to get into the flow of the game and get in the mix of the game." -- Johnson on his team's struggles despite Green leading the country in scoring
"He is a load right now." -- UNC head coach Roy Williams on Green
Season to Date: Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s contest with an 11-9 (2-5 ACC) record. The Hokies picked up quality early season wins over Iowa (95-79) and Oklahoma State (81-71) in racing out to a 7-0 start. First-year head coach James Johnson’s squad has since lost nine of 13 games, including seven of nine. Virginia Tech’s ACC wins occurred at Georgia Tech (70-65, OT) and against Wake Forest (66-65).
Man on Fire: Erick Green has been nothing short of phenomenal during his senior season in Blacksburg. The 6-foot-4 guard leads the nation in scoring at 25.5 points per game on 49.8 percent shooting, including a 38.5 percent mark from 3-point territory. Green has scored 20 or more points in all but one game this season and has topped the 30-point plateau three times. He’s also pulling down 4.4 rebounds per game and ranks sixth in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio (1.9; 84 assists, 45 turnovers).
Secondary Option: Junior wing Jarell Eddie plays Robin to Green’s Batman in Blacksburg as the duo combines to average 39.9 points per game. Eddie (14.4 ppg) hasn’t been quite as consistent scoring as his teammate, however. The Charlotte, N.C. product has scored 17 or more points on nine occasions, while failing to reach double figures in six outings. The 6-foot-7, 218-pounder is pulling down 6.4 rebounds per game, good for second on the team, but he’s also struggling taking care of the ball. Eddie has tallied more assists than turnovers just once in his last 12 games.
Pair of 10s: If you’re looking for an explanation for Virginia Tech’s recent slide, look no further than its field goal percentage statistics. The Hokies rank 10th in the ACC in both field goal percentage (43.5) and field goal percentage defense (42.0). Virginia Tech has lost eight of 13 games in which its opponents have shot 40 percent or higher, while losing all seven games in which its opponents have posted a better field goal percentage.
Trouble with the Ball: In ACC play, Virginia Tech has struggled to create turnovers, forcing a league-low 8.6 per game. The Hokies have also struggled to share the ball effectively on offense, resulting in some troubling statistics. Virginia Tech ranks last in the league in assists (9.7) and steals (3.3), 11th in turnover margin (minus-3.29) and 10th in assist-turnover ratio (0.8).
Last Meeting: UNC defeated Virginia Tech, 82-68, in Blacksburg on Jan. 19, 2012. The Hokies led 39-34 at halftime before the Tar Heels pulled away with a 19-0 run in the second half. Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 27 points while John Henson (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Tyler Zeller (14 points, 11 rebounds) both posted double-doubles. Dexter Strickland tore his right ACL during the second half and missed the remainder of the season.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia Tech, 62-13. The Tar Heels are 27-6 against the Hokies in Chapel Hill.
11 Erick Green (6-3, 185, Sr.) - 25.5 ppg, 4.2 apg
10 Marquis Rankin (6-1, 170, So.) - 2.7 ppg, 1.0 apg
31 Jarell Eddie (6-7, 218, Jr.) - 14.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg
42 C.J. Barksdale (6-8, 232, So.) - 5.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
4 Cadarian Raines (6-9, 238, Jr.) - 6.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
1 Robert Brown (6-5, 190, So.) - 9.5 ppg, 2.5 apg
33 Marshall Wood (6-8, 210, Fr.) - 4.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
2 Joey van Zegeren (6-10, 225, Fr.) - 4.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg
22 Christian Beyer (6-7, 200, So.) - 2.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
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(Photos by USA Today Sports Images)