Previewing Virginia

North Carolina takes aim at its sixth straight ACC road win on Saturday against Virginia. The two teams met for their first matchup just two weeks ago. Tip-off in Charlottesville is set for 4 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (24-4, 11-2) vs. Virginia (21-6, 8-5)
Charlottesville, Va. -- John Paul Jones Arena
4 p.m. -- ESPN (Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)


"He's a phenomenal player. He can score inside and out. I know he put up 10 points very quickly against us in the first game. Hopefully John's (Henson) length can cause him a little bit of problems, but he's a phenomenal player and it'll be interesting to see how he does." -- UNC forward Tyler Zeller on Virginia forward Mike Scott


Since the Last Meeting: No. 25 Virginia enters Saturday's contest with a 21-6 (8-5 ACC) record. The Cavaliers have played just three games since their trip to Chapel Hill two weeks, thanks to the uneven ACC schedule. Tony Bennett's squad suffered a surprising loss at Clemson (60-48) before bouncing back to throttle Maryland (71-44) and secure a tough road win at Virginia Tech (61-59) on Tuesday.

A Consistent Force: Fifth-year senior Mike Scott is a lock for first-team All-ACC honors due to his ability to produce on a night-in, night-out basis as Virginia's top player. The Chesapeake, Va. native ranks in the top 10 in the ACC in scoring (17.3 ppg, 3rd), rebounding (8.2, 6th), field goal percentage (58.8, 1st), free throw percentage (81.8, 8th), and defensive rebounds (5.9, 4th). Scott has upped his scoring average to 18.9 points per game over his last nine ACC outings.

Evans Elevating his Play: Junior guard Jontel Evans hit a rough scoring stretch from mid-December until mid-January during which he averaged 3.7 points in a seven-game span. But the Hampton, Va. native has since responded with six double-figure games, including an 11.2 points-per-game average over his last five contests. He also ranks fifth in the ACC in assists with 3.8 per game.

Relying on Defense: Despite lacking a roster full of athletic, rangy-type players, the Cavaliers have posted some of the top defensive statistics nationally this season. The Hoos lead the country in points per possession (0.86) and assists allowed per game (7.9) and rank second in points per game (52.1), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.6) and 17th in field goal percentage defense (38.9).

Harris Hurting: Sophomore guard Joe Harris fractured a bone in his left hand the last time these two teams met, but has continued to play while wearing a protective device. He has started all of Virginia's games this season, but the injury has hurt his production. After averaging 12.5 points and 4.1 rebounds through the first 24 games, Harris has totaled just 10 points and grabbed five rebounds over his last three outings.

Random Fact of the Day: North Carolina is the only ACC team undefeated at John Paul Jones Arena. The Tar Heels are 3-0.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Cavaliers, 70-52, on Feb. 11, 2012, at the Smith Center. Tyler Zeller scored 25 points while Harrison Barnes (14 points, 11 rebounds) and John Henson (10 points, 10 rebounds) both posted double-doubles.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia, 126-49. The Tar Heels are 43-31 in Charlottesville.

Projected Starters:
1 Jontel Evans (5-11, 188, Jr.) - 7.0 ppg, 3.8 apg
13 Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, 184, Sr.) - 8.3 ppg, 2.8 apg
12 Joe Harris (6-6, 211, So.) - 11.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg
23 Mike Scott (6-8, 237, Sr.) - 17.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg
25 Akil Mitchell (6-8, 234, So.) - 4.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Top Reserves:
22 Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 215, Fr.) - 6.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
32 Darion Atkins (6-8, 222, Fr.) - 2.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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