Meeks Efficient in Victory

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Kennedy Meeks has emerged as No. 24 North Carolina’s most efficient scoring option 10 games into his sophomore season.

Meeks led UNC with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting in Tuesday’s 79-56 win over UNCG at the Greensboro Coliseum. The double-digit scoring effort marks his eighth of the season, which is tops on the team along with his 13.8 points-per-game average.

The 6-foot-9, 270-pounder is not one to pat his own back in postgame interviews, especially when asked about the reason behind his efficiency.

“Just being aggressive,” Meeks said. “Going to the basket as much as I can… I don’t know. That’s about it.”

Junior guard Marcus Paige provided a bit more insight into his teammate’s improved offensive play.

“I think he’s getting better position inside,” Paige said. “Last year he liked to go to that little fadeaway. This year you see him going to the basket more. When we run our sets, he’s the beneficiary of a lot of interior screening, so we’re trying to get the ball inside more than we did last year.”

UNC used more of an out-to-in approach with James Michael McAdoo being what Paige described as a “pick-and-pop” guy. This year, UNC has reverted back to its traditional in-to-out style as Meeks has been more vocal in calling for the ball.

“We always talk about the big guys, how you need to step to the ball aggressively and demand the ball inside,” Paige said. “He’s done that probably better than any of other posts and that’s why his numbers look as good as they do.”

Meeks’s near-perfect shooting percentage against UNCG was due to an ability to score in a variety of ways around the basket. He scored in transition following a pass ahead from Justin Jackson. He went to the rim when UNCG’s defense closed on a driving Britt to set up a dump pass and layup. He scored on offensive rebound putbacks and in powering his way to the rim on entry passes.

With 11:30 to play, Meeks had more second half points (12) than UNCG’s entire team (11).

“He’s doing some nice things,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said. “His only miss tonight was a dead layup. He was looking around to see who was going to try to come block his shot and didn’t focus on it going in. Then he got the offensive rebound and put it back in…

“We’ve got to get Kennedy to be a little more explosive around the basket so the bigger guys on some of the bigger teams we play won’t bother him as much.”

Meeks entered Tuesday’s game ranked third in the ACC in field goal percentage (62.3). He moved to second on the list after his 88.9 percent effort against the Spartans as he’s currently shooting 65.1 percent on the season.

The Charlotte, N.C. product has proven to be a key cog in UNC’s offensive success. He leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game on 66.7 percent shooting (44-66) in UNC’s seven wins, while managing 10.7 points per game in its three losses.

After learning of his sophomore’s stats, Williams said what most everyone else was thinking following the game: “We’ve got to get him more shots if he’s going to shot 65 percent.”

UNC will undoubtedly need his scoring punch against hot-shooting No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday in Chicago.

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