North Carolina (5-0) vs. Oklahoma State (4-0)
Lahaina, Maui, Hawai’i – Lahaina Civic Center
Tuesday, 5.30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. EST)
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas)
“Giving up 90 points still is not what we're necessarily about. We have to finish and learn how to close the game. But in a tournament a win is a win, so we survive and advance.” – Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte after Monday’s 98-90 win over UConn
“We've got a big-time challenge. I told them it's the big leagues tomorrow because Oklahoma State was really, really impressive tonight.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams
“I think we have good players who are really good people who are trying to work really hard. I worry about all the predictions and the preseason stuff so little that I didn't even know we were picked seventh. It's not something I pay attention to, to be quite honest. We try to get better every day. We beat a very good UConn team today.” – Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood
UNC Bounces Back: After a sluggish start to this Hawaiian road trip in Honolulu on Friday, the Tar Heels played with more defensive intensity and executed better on the offensive end in rolling past Chaminade on Monday. UNC’s post trio of Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley combined for 56 points on 20-of-26 shooting as the Tar Heels shot a season-high 57.8 percent from the floor. UNC is shooting 51.2 percent on the season, while holding its opponents to 37.0 percent. The Tar Heels are also averaging 94.4 points per game, which is good sign considering they’ve won 50 straight when crossing the 100-point threshold.
Cowboys Spotlight: First-year head coach Brad Underwood has Oklahoma State rolling through four games. The former Stephen F. Austin head coach’s squad is averaging 104.8 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting, including a 41.0 percent effort from long range. OSU is currently ninth nationally in adjusted tempo, according to kenpom.com. The Cowboys have also been effective on the glass, possessing a plus-10.2 rebounding margin. Sophomore guard Juwan Evans is the headliner, an aggressive player who is averaging 26.3 points per game on 53.1 percent shooting.
Threes Dropping: Seven different Cowboys have attempted at least eight 3-pointers through four games with plenty of success. Phil Forte is averaging three made 3-pointers per game and is connecting at a 42.9 percent clip, while Evans and Jeffrey Carroll have been quite efficient, combining to knock down 63.2 percent of their treys (12-of-19). Six players have made at least four 3-pointers thus far, thereby placing an emphasis on UNC’s ability to battle around screens and contest perimeter shots from most everyone in a Cowboy jersey. Defending the 3-ball has been a point of contention for Underwood’s squad as well: OSU’s opponents are shooting 44.4 percent from long range.
Matchup to Watch: While Evans has earned the headlines, he’s received plenty of perimeter help from Forte (21.0 ppg on 53.3 percent) and Carroll (18.5 ppg on 66.7 percent). Such high volume scoring on efficient shooting forces opposing defenses to extend beyond their comfort zones, which then stresses communication for help purposes. Roy Williams has praised the defensive efforts of Joel Berry, Kenny Williams and Nate Britt through the first two weeks of the season. They will encounter their toughest assignment to date against the Cowboys’ guard-dominant approach.
Last Meeting: OSU won the only game in this series on March 26, 1946, when the school went by Oklahoma A&M. The Cowboys defeated UNC, 43-40, in the NCAA championship game at Madison Square Garden.
Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 14.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 6.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Projected Oklahoma State Starters:
23 Leyton Hammonds (6-8, 215, Sr.) – 7.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg
41 Mitchell Solomon (6-9, 245, Jr.) – 2.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
01 Juwan Evans (6-1, 185, So.) - 26.3 ppg, 6.3 apg
13 Phil Forte (5-11, 195, Sr.) – 21.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
21 Lindy Waters (6-6, 200, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg