Battle of the Bigs

ST. LOUIS – It's been termed a "Battle of the Titans" and tomorrow's game between two historic programs, the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Kansas Jayhawks, may be more about who can win inside the paint. Both teams spoke ad nauseum in Saturday afternoon's press session how much the result will depend on the frontcourt clash.

"It's going to be a battle," KU junior Thomas Robinson said. "Me and Jeff [Withey], we're two great players and [John Henson and Tyler Zeller] are two great players too. I know I don't want to go home. . .I am definitely expecting a physical game and I wouldn't expect anything less than that going against a seven-footer and John Henson, who has the longest arms in the country."

Henson and Zeller will have their own hands full trying to guard the Kansas bigs too, though.

Robinson's offensive successes are well-documented, but Withey has stepped up his game as well to provide a formidable interior option. Averaging 9.3 points per game, the seven-footer's scoring capabilities can't go unnoticed.

"It's a big challenge," Henson said. "I think their frontline is probably one of the more physical frontlines in the country. With Robinson and Withey, I think it's going to be tough for me and Z."

After facing an Ohio defense that packed things in, UNC will get a lot of one-on-one looks in the post from the Jayhawks. Henson, who possesses incredible athleticism and talent, would prefer a man-to-man defense.

Although Withey was concerned with the ability that Henson brings to the table, he's got plenty of respect for Zeller. His plan is to "be annoying" and make his seven-foot counterpart's life difficult.

"He's a great player and his 20/20 against Ohio was very impressive," he said. "He's really athletic, considering his height, and he can shoot with either hand. He's a physical guy who plays very smart. Every time he shoots I want him to think about me blocking his shot."

There aren't many big man combinations in the country that cause as many fits for an opponent as these two will for one another on Sunday afternoon.

"Robinson and Withey are fantastic players," Zeller said. "We are going to have to have a very good game as a frontcourt, and our guards will have to step up as well."

When the ball tips, all respect will be thrown out the window and the big men will have to fend for themselves inside.

Robinson, who commented postgame about the physicality of the matchup against NC State's Richard Howell last night, doesn't expect it to be any different against the Tar Heels.

"I'm pretty sure nobody is going to check me single-coverage," he said. "If they do, I'm not afraid of nobody. It's a part of basketball so that's going to come with [the territory]." Top Stories