Previewing Belmont

The Tar Heels have one more home game before hitting the road for a few weeks. Belmont comes to the Smith Center on Sunday and the tip-off, on ESPNU, is set for 4 p.m.

North Carolina (2-0) vs. Belmont (2-1)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Sunday, 4:00 p.m.
ESPNU (Tom Hart, Fran Fraschilla)


Season to Date: Belmont enters Sunday's contest with a 2-1 record. The Bruins defeated Lipscomb, 87-83, in their season opener before losing 69-61 at Richmond on Nov. 11. Rick Byrd's 28th squad at Belmont topped Indiana State, 96-95, on Thursday. Indiana State led by 16 at halftime, but the Bruins rallied to take a 12-point lead with 2:58 to play. The Sycamores cut their deficit to one but were unable to capitalize on their final possession.

A Horde of New Faces: Belmont's lethal backcourt duo of Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark have finally run out of eligibility, thereby ushering in a roster loaded with nine newcomers, including seven freshmen. Senior forward Drew Windler was the most highly-anticipated addition after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. The 6-foot-9, 215-pounder was a All-SoCon selection at Samford. Windler is averaging 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds through three games.

Mann Struggling: J.J. Mann is one of two returning starters for the Bruins and the lone returner that averaged double digits in 2012-13. The senior wing shot 43.8 percent from the floor, including a 38.8 effort from 3-point territory last season, but his shot is not falling as easily thus far. Mann is averaging 16.0 points on 40.5 percent shooting, including a 1-of-16 mark from long range. His problems serve as a microcosm for the Bruins, who rely on the 3-point shot yet are converting 27.8 percent of their attempts.

Pros & Cons:Belmont's lack of size – frontcourt goes 6-6, 6-8, 6-9 – has led to rebounding issues (minus-3.7 margin), but the Bruins make use of their speed to force 16.7 turnovers per game. Byrd's squad possesses a plus-2.7 turnover margin. Belmont is shooting 49.7 percent from the floor, while holding its opponents to 48.0 percent.

Savvy Senior: Blake Jenkins joins Mann as the only two returning starters from last season's squad. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward is averaging 11.0 points on 77.8 percent shooting and a team-high 6.3 rebounds.

Solid Recent History: Rick Byrd has gradually built a mid-major power at Belmont. The Bruins became a Division I member in '96-97 after a pair of Final Four appearances at the NAIA level. Belmont has won 20 or more games in eight of the last 10 years and has played in the NCAA Tournament six times in the past eight seasons. Byrd's program posted a 26-7 record last season in its first year in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Stat of the Day: Belmont has made the second-most 3-point field goals in the nation since becoming D-I in '96-97. Duke leads the nation in that category.

Series History: Sunday's contest will be the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Projected Starters:
22 Reece Chamberlain (6-1, 180, Jr.) - 13.0 ppg, 4.7 apg
23 Craig Bradshaw (6-3, 210, So.) - 8.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
24 J.J. Mann (6-6, 215, Sr.) - 16.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
2 Blake Jenkins (6-8, 220, Sr.) - 11.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg
1 Drew Windler (6-9, 215, Sr.) - 15.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
13 Chad Lang (6-11, 285, Jr.) - 7.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
35 Evan Bradds (6-6, 200, Fr.) - 5.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg
12 Nick Smith (6-8, 210, Fr.) - 5.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg

Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Enrollment: 6,918
Conference: Ohio Valley
Nickname: Bruins
Colors: Navy, Red & White
Head Coach: Rick Byrd (28th season)
2012-13 Record: 26-7 (14-2)

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(Photos from USA Today Sports)

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