Both UNC and UM enter Sunday's game following tough losses this week, UM losing a double overtime battle with NC State and UNC losing to Duke.
UNC is led by freshman center Tyler Hansbrough, who is averaging 17.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg. Hansbrough has been named rookie of the week six times this season.
UM has been sparked by the hot shooting of senior guard Robert Hite. Over the last four games, Hite has averaged 22 ppg and 7 rpg while shooting 50% from the field and 51% in three-pointers.
Miami defeated UNC in their first game of the season January 14 at Chapel Hill 81-70. In that game UM's three guard attack of Hite (24), Anthony Harris (17) and Guillermo Diaz combined (24) for 65 points.
The key stat in the first UM-UNC games was the rebounding margin. Miami out-rebounded UNC 43-34 while dominating the offensive glass 21-11.
Miami center Gary Hamilton played a key role in the win, pulling down nine rebounds, six of which were offensive. UM must control the boards again if they hope to have a chance against UNC.
Hamilton's scrappy play has earned him numerous GA-RY chants from the student section. He is UM's emotional leader who brings defense, rebounding and intensity to every game.
Q&A WITH GARY HAMILTON
What has been the difference in between the team in the first half of the year and the team right now?
"In a couple of games, like in the Air Force game in the semifinals of the BCA Classic, we were looking past [Air Force] to play Washington in the finals. Even back to the Virginia game, we were looking past them to play Florida State. We are doing a much better job of buying into the concept of taking it one game at a time."
What type of atmosphere do you expect against UNC?
"We are getting a lot of love from the student section. If we could fill out the rest of the arena, that would be magnificent. There is nothing like playing in front of a sold out crowd."
How does it feel to be a fan-favorite of the student section?
"Being the fan favorite is pretty cool; going out my senior year with everybody chanting my name. I can appreciate that."
How will you guys prepare for the last three games of this four game stretch?
"Everything starts at practice. We get mentally prepared to start each game their. Like I said we are buying into coach Haith saying to take it one game at a time. In this league you cannot look past anybody."
Is this the toughest four game stretch (NC State, UNC, BC, Duke) since you have been here?
"Yeah, I do not remember taking on a stretch like this. This is a big week and I think we are capable of winning all of them."
Hamilton, Miami Face UNC Tonight at 8:00 p.m.
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