North Carolina (3-0) vs. Hawai'i (2-1)
Honolulu, Hawaii – Sheriff Center Friday, 8 p.m. (1am EST)
Oceanic Time Warner Cable (Kanoa Leahey, Artie Wilson)
Broadcast Details: North Carolina-area residents can watch the game on Time Warner Cable (channels 77 or 323). The game will also be streamed online.
“It’s no secret that we have some limitations and depth issues there. We’re not as big as we would like to be, but we still have to find a way to provide a presence, both in someone anchoring the back line of defense and on the glass.” – Hawai'i head coach Eran Ganot on the lack of experienced bodies in the frontcourt
UNC’s Balanced Approach: Roy Williams has long preached the necessity of various scoring options to avoid having to rely on one player to carry the load. Even though Joel Berry is leading the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game, the junior point guard is only averaging 10 field goal attempts through three games. Seven different Tar Heels have attempted at least 12 shots and six Tar Heels have tallied at least five assists, including four with 10 or more. As a result, UNC is averaging five scorers in double figures while assisting on 69 percent of its field goals.
Hawai'i Spotlight: The 2015-16 Rainbow Warriors won the Big West with a 28-6 (13-3) record and upset California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for one of the best seasons in school history. The 2016-17 roster is a completely different group of players following the departure of last year’s top-eight scorers, including Big West Player of the Year Stefan Jankovic. Point guard Sheriff Drammeh is the team’s top returning scorer (1.7 ppg in ’15-16). UCLA transfer Noah Allen is leading the team in both scoring (16.3) and rebounding (7.3), while Drammeh is adding 14.7 points per game in Hawai'i’s 2-1 start. That record is a bit misleading, given that the Rainbow Warriors dropped its opener to SIU Edwardsville before notching close wins over Texas State and Florida Atlantic.
Revamped Post: Hawai'i’s post play was the primary driver to its success last season, led by Jankovic’s talent. While the team is breaking in 10 new players, six of those play in the frontcourt. JUCO transfer Gibson Johnson (6-foot-8) is averaging 11.0 points on 58.3 percent shooting and 5.7 rebounds, while 6-foot-8 Auburn transfer Jack Purchase is contributing 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Freshman center Ido Flaisher (6-foot-10) has been productive in limited minutes, averaging 8.0 points on 67 percent shooting and six rebounds per game.
Matchup to Watch: Berry’s emphasis this season to extend his defensive pressure to harass opposing point guards and force teams to start their offense further out on the perimeter than they would like has proved effective for the Tar Heels early. Drammeh is the veteran leader on this Hawai'i squad and has accepted his role in guiding a fresh group of faces donning Rainbow Warrior uniforms. If Berry is able to dominate his matchup with Drammeh, it could quickly drain Hawaii’s will to fight the uphill challenge this contest presents.
Last Meeting: UNC defeated Hawai'i, 88-76, at the Sheriff Center on Dec. 22, 1994. Jerry Stackhouse led the Tar Heels with 21`points and 13 rebounds.
Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series, 4-0.
Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 21.3 ppg, 4.3 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 12.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 17.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 5.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Projected Hawai'i Starters:
32 Noah Allen (6-7, 215, Sr.) – 16.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg
23 Sheriff Drammeh (6-3, 160, So.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 apg
21 Gibson Johnson (6-8, 220, Jr.) - 11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg
12 Jack Purchase (6-8, 200, So.) – 10.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
00 Leland Green (6-2, 175, Fr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg
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