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Previewing Boston College

No. 9 North Carolina travels to the land of blizzard warnings to play Boston College for the second time in 11 days. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on Tuesday and will be televised by the ACC Network.

North Carolina (19-4, 8-2 ACC) vs. Boston College (7-16, 0-10 ACC)
Chestnut Hill, Mass. – Conte Forum
Tuesday, 8 p.m.
ACC Network (Tim Brando, Cory Alexander)

Quotable

“Offensively, we’ve just had a tough time. We go through stretches where we haven’t been able to score the ball, but we’ve just got to keep weathering the storm, keep trying to get our guys better.” – Boston College head coach Jim Christian

PREGAME NOTES

Since the Last Meeting: Boston College enters Tuesday’s contest with a 7-16 (0-10) record. The Eagles have lost 16 of their last 20 games after a 3-0 start to the season. All 10 ACC losses have been by double digits, including six by 22 points or more. While the dreaded 0-18 league record remains a possibility the schedule loosens up after the Tar Heels leave town. Boston College plays Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and N.C. State over its final seven games.

Freshman Elevating: With five freshmen in Jim Christian’s nine-man rotation, there was always the possibility, if not likelihood, that a rookie would find his rhythm and emerge as a playmaker for the Eagles. Sammy Barnes-Thompkins has done just that, working his way into the starting lineup by averaging 10.3 points over his last three games. The Phoenix, Ariz. Guard has led the Eagles in scoring the last two outings, scoring 14 at Virginia and 11 at Louisville. He made 7-of-16 3-pointers in Boston College’s three-game road trip that started at UNC.

Offense Still Offensive: Christian hasn’t been able to perform any magic tricks since the Eagles were in Chapel Hill. His squad ranks last in ACC play in scoring offense (53.9), scoring margin (-21.4), field goal percentage (37.6), 14th in free throw percentage (64.6) and 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (33.2).

Carter Playing Steady: The Eagles have leaned on senior transfer guard Eli Carter to pace their offense, and he’s stayed on track despite drawing the focus from opposing defenses. Over his last 14 games, the Florida transfer is averaging 16.0 points, 4.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds, including a 19-point effort at UNC. His last two outings haven’t been quite as effective as he managed just nine points on 3-of-19 shooting.

Defensive Making Relative Strides: As poor as Boston College’s offense has been, there has been some improvement this season on the defensive end of the floor. The Eagles rank 57th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency (97.3), according to kenpom.com. That’s the best ranking in that category for Boston College since the 2004-05 season, according to the school’s sports information office. Even so, the Eagles rank 15th in ACC play in field goal percentage defense, allowing league opponents to shoot 50.1 percent.

Hicks Returns: Sophomore guard Darryl Hicks is back in action after sitting out two games, including the last matchup with UNC, due to a concussion. He scored six points on 2-of-6 shooting in 28 minutes in the loss to Louisville on Sunday. Hicks is averaging 4.1 points per game and will play greater minutes than normal in freshman guard Jerome Robinson’s absence (wrist fracture).

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Eagles, 89-62, at the Smith Center on Jan. 30, 2016. Brice Johnson led UNC with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Joel Berry scored 13 points and dished out six assists without a turnover. The Tar Heels shot 53.7 percent from the floor and held the Eagles to 44.2 percent. Points off turnovers was the key factor as UNC managed a 30-5 advantage.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 14-5. The Tar Heels have won eight in a row and 12 of the last 14 meetings.

Projected Starters:
55 Sammy Barnes-Thompkins (6-3, 192, Fr.) – 4.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg
3 Eli Carter (6-2, 200, Gr.) - 16.1 ppg, 4.1 apg
5 Garland Owens (6-5, 225, Jr.) - 4.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg
11 A.J. Turner (6-7, 190, Fr.) - 5.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg
24 Dennis Clifford (7-0, 262, Sr.) - 8.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
4 Idy Diallo (6-11, 253, Fr.) – 2.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg
10 Ervins Meznieks (6-7, 218, Fr.) – 3.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg
22 Matt Milon (6-4, 200, Fr.) – 4.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg

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