Previewing Nicholls State

Next up on North Carolina's lengthy home stand is Nicholls State, one of the youngest teams in the nation. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (9-2) vs. Nicholls State (4-7)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7:00pm -- ESPNU (John Sciambi, Hubert Davis)


"It will be a great experience for all of us. We've never played in an atmosphere like that. We just got to come out on the floor with the same intensity we brought the last couple of games." – Nicholls State forward Trevon Lewis on playing at UNC

"This is a special opportunity. This is what being a Division I basketball player is all about. Every one of these kids grew up dreaming of playing at Kentucky, Duke, UNC, LSU. They're going to play against six or seven guys that are going to be playing in the NBA." – Nicholls State head coach J.P. Piper


Season to Date: Nicholls State enters Monday's contest with a 4-7 record. The Colonials have struggled against Division I competition through the first seven weeks of the season, as evidenced by a minus-10.7 scoring margin against a schedule that includes several non-DI schools. Head coach J.P. Piper's squad has lost to LSU (96-74), Tulane (96-50), Cal State Fullerton (73-63), UL-Lafayette (84-57), Auburn (78-57), UL-Monroe (86-65) and Texas (93-40). The Colonials' wins have come against Houston Baptist (80-70), Loyola-New Orleans (92-76), UL-Monroe (82-70) and Dillard (92-48).

Perimeter Play Key: The Colonels' lack of size on the interior have forced them to rely on perimeter scoring this season in order to generate points. Piper's club has knocked down 36.2 percent of its treys (80-of-221) through 11 games. Forwards Trevon Lewis (14.0 ppg) and Chris "C-Talk" Talkington (12.0 ppg) lead the team in scoring, and unsurprisingly, both have utilized the 3-point line to aid in their offensive production. Talkington (39.7 percent on 3-pointers) sits atop the Southland Conference standings with 23 made 3-pointers, while Lewis has kept defenders honest by knocking down 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from long range.

Injuries Abound: Fred Hunter was having a successful junior season in '10-'11, averaging over 15 points per game, before blowing out his knee midway through the year. The severity of that injury has sidelined the senior guard for the entire '11-'12 season, but unfortunately for the Colonials, Hunter's not alone on the bench. The veteran starting backcourt tandem of Ben Martin (back) and Dantrell Thomas (calf) have both missed the last two games, while reserve guard Pedro Maciel (knee) hasn't played since the exhibition victory over Mobile.

Youth Served: With the aforementioned injuries to upperclassmen Hunter, Martin and Maciel, Piper‘s current rotation is made up purely of freshmen and sophomores. Four freshmen are averaging more than 23 minutes per game.

Just the Stats: Nicholls is shooting 44.3 percent (259-of-585) from the floor, while its opponents are connecting on 45.9 percent (299-of-651) of their field goal attempts, including a 37.4 percent mark (89-of-238) from long range.

Height Shortcomings: Only two players on Nicholls' roster stand taller than 6-foot-6 – Australian freshmen Sam McBeath and Lachlan Prest. Both of those rookies check in at 6-foot-7. That height discrepancy helps to explain the Colonels' minus-8.4 rebounding margin.

Random Fact of the Day: Monday night represents one of only three televised games all season long for the Colonels.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Colonels, 88-78, on Dec. 19, 2007 in Chapel Hill. UNC used a 17-2 run to open up a 60-39 lead in the second half, but Nicholls responded with an 8-0 spurt late in the game to keep it competitive. Tyler Hansbrough led the Tar Heels with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Wayne Ellington added 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting. The Colonels drilled 14 of their 28 3-pointers.

Series History: North Carolina leads the overall series with Nicholls, 1-0.

Projected Starters:
3 Bryan Hammond (6-1, 175, So.) - 8.9 ppg, 2.5 apg
21 Shane Rillieux (6-2, 190, Fr.) - 6.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
23 Trevon Lewis (6-5, 200, Fr.) - 14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
15 Sam McBeath (6-7, 190, Fr.) - 7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
2 Lachlan Prest (6-7, 209, Fr.) - 6.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
11 Chris Talkington (6-6, 205, So.) - 12.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg
34 Jeremy Smith (6-3, 175, So.) - 6.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Location: Thibodaux, La.
Enrollment: 6,814
Conference: Southland
Nickname: Colonels
Color: Red & Gray
Head Coach: J.P. Piper (8th season)

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(Photos by US Presswire/Maloney)

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