Previewing Appalachian State

With finals week in their rear view mirror, North Carolina takes the floor on Saturday against Appalachian State, which is coached by former Tar Heel Jason Capel. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (8-2) vs. Appalachian State (4-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
6:00pm -- ESPNU (Rob Stone, Jay Williams)


"It's more of being proud. It's more of a testament to Coach (Dean) Smith and being a part of that coaching tree. To have a chance to run your own program and go back and compete against what you learned and all the guys that came before me — such as Buzz (Peterson), who put me in this position that I'm in right now. So it's a sense of pride and I'm looking forward to going back, taking my team there and us having a chance to compete against those guys." – ASU head coach Jason Capel told the Winston-Salem Journal this week on his return to Chapel Hill


Season to Date: Appalachian State enters Saturday's contest with a 4-5 (1-1 SoCon) record. The Mountaineers defeated four of their first six opponents, including wins over Lees-McRae, Tennessee Tech, Milligan and UNC Greensboro, but have lost three straight to Georgia Southern, Minnesota and East Tennessee State.

Preseason POY: Omar Carter was voted the Southern Conference's Preseason Player of the Year this fall after averaging 16.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first season with ASU in '10-11. The senior guard is averaging 12.6 points and 6.1 rebounds through nine games this season, but has increased those numbers to 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game during conference play. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder posted a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds in the Mountaineers' SoCon opener against UNC Greensboro.

New Faces Contributing: Junior college transfer Jamaal Trice has provided an offensive boost this season as he leads his team with 12.8 points per game. The former Midland (Calif.) College guard is knocking down 45.1 percent of his 3-pointers (23-of-51) and ranks fifth in the league with 2.5 3-pointers per game. In addition to Trice, several other Mountaineer newcomers are playing critical roles. Junior Rodney Milum is averaging 10.0 points on 2.4 3-pointers per outing and Tab Hamilton (5.7), Mike Neal (3.4) and G.J. Vilarino (4.5) are also seeing action. That group has accounted for 50.7 percent of ASU's scoring.

Sharing the Ball: Three Mountaineers – Milum (10-9), Neal (22-19) and Mitch Woods (23-14) – possess assist-to-turnover ratios of 1.0 or better this season. According to ASU's official website, fifty-seven percent (119-208) of the Mountaineers' field goals this season have been assisted.

Capel Returns: ASU head coach Jason Capel returns home for the first time as a head coach on Saturday. The Fayetteville, N.C. native was a four-year starter at North Carolina ('98-‘02), scoring 1,447 career points and playing on the 2000 Final Four team. Upon graduation, Capel played basketball professionally for five seasons both in the NBDL and overseas. After serving as an assistant coach in Boone during the '09-10 season, Capel was named head coach on Apr. 21, 2010, becoming the youngest NCAA Division I head coach at the time at 30 years, three months and six days old. He scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in two career games against his current employer.

Just the Stats: ASU is averaging 66.4 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting (208-of-483), including a 35.1 percent mark (66-of-188) from 3-point territory. Opponents are averaging 66.9 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting (211-of-512) from the floor and 34.5 percent (38-of-110) from long range.

Blocks Galore: The Mountaineers lead their league with 5.2 blocks per game. Senior forward Andre Williamson tops the SoCon standings with 2.1 blocks per outing, while senior center Isaac Butts has swatted eight balls this season.

Size on Their Side: ASU's starting lineup of Carter, Trice, Williamson, Butts and guard G.J. Vilarino average out to roughly 6-foot-6 across the board. Vilarino, standing 6-foot-1, is the lone starter under 6-foot-5. That size helps to explain the Mountaineers' plus-2.1 rebounding margin (2nd SoCon).

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels opened the Holmes Center in Boone, N.C., on Nov. 11, 2000 in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,325 and dismantled the Mountaineers, 99-69. Joe Forte led UNC with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Kris Lang added 16 points. North Carolina shot 56.9 percent and forced 22 turnovers in the victory.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Appalachian State, 4-0.

Projected Starters:
3 G.J. Vilarino (6-1, 185, So.) - 4.5 ppg, 2.0 apg
21 Omar Carter (6-5, 215, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg
13 Jamaal Trice (6-6, 230, Jr.) - 12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg
50 Andre Williamson (6-7, 240, Sr.) - 8.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg
32 Isaac Butts (6-10, 290, Sr.) - 8.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
1 Rodney Milum (6-0, 190, Jr.) - 10.0 ppg, 1.1 apg
2 Tab Hamilton (6-3, 175, Fr.) - 5.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
23 Mike Neal (6-2, 170, Fr.) - 3.4 ppg, 2.8 apg

Location: Boone, N.C.
Enrollment: 16,600
Conference: Southern
Nickname: Mountaineers
Colors: Black & Gold
Head Coach: Jason Capel (2nd season)

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