Meeks Doubtful vs. Louisville

GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 19 North Carolina will likely be without starting forward Kennedy Meeks for the second straight game in Thursday’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal matchup with No. 14 Louisville.

Meeks did not play in UNC’s 81-63 win over Boston College on Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms. The Charlotte, N.C. native also sat out practice on Monday and Tuesday.

“I don’t expect him to play,” UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters following the game. “He hasn’t practiced. He hasn’t run up and down the court since the Duke game, not one single time, so I really don’t expect him to play.”

Meeks was tested for mono and strep throat earlier in the week and those results came back negative. Williams said that Meeks had more lab work done on Wednesday morning, but that the results were not available prior to tip-off.

“We have no idea, guys,” Williams said. “We have no idea.”

UNC managed to control the paint against the Eagles’ smaller lineup, finishing with a 43-25 rebounding margin and a 19-9 edge in second-chance points.

The post task will be significantly more difficult on Thursday. The Cardinals’ post rotation includes three sizable bigs in Montrezl Harrell (6-8, 240), Chinanu Onuaku (6-10, 230) and Mangok Mathiang (6-10, 220).

Louisville outscored UNC 17-0 in second-chance points over the final 25 minutes of its 18-point comeback on Jan. 31. The Cardinals’ 26 second-chance points in that game remain the most allowed by UNC this season.

Joel James started in place of Meeks against Boston College and posted six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes. Isaiah Hicks (7 pts, 5 rebs) and Jackson Simmons (2 pts, 1 reb) rounded out the post rotation alongside Brice Johnson (17 pts, 9 rebs).

“Tomorrow, we need our 4-man to play big,” junior guard Marcus Paige said. “We’re going to need Isaiah and Brice to be beasts on the boards. We’re going to need Joel to come in and produce and Jackson Simmons to be ready to give us minutes in case of foul trouble because it’s going to be a man’s game on the backboards.”

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