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UNC vs. Pittsburgh Preview

No. 12 North Carolina looks to start a new winning streak on Tuesday against Pittsburgh following Saturday's loss at Miami. The game tips at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

North Carolina (19-4, 7-2 ACC) vs. Pittsburgh (12-9, 1-7 ACC)
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Dean E. Smith Center
Tuesday, 7 p.m.

“They care. They want to. I asked them to show up with energy and they did. I think they’re getting the message. We just don’t have a big margin for error. That’s the bottom line. We’re a team that, while we can’t rely on the jump shot, we have to make jump shots because we don’t have an inside presence that is such that we can just go in and go over people. We’re not big enough.” – Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings following Saturday’s loss to Clemson

“(He’s) just one of the great offensive minds, particularly, as he’s gotten a lot better total…. Kevin really does a great job. They’ve had a tough time now but I really do like Kevin Stallings…. but I like my team a lot better. I want his problems to be extended for one more game and then he can get a lot of things straightened out…. They can really score. We’ve got to do a great job defensively.” – UNC coach Roy Williams on Stallings

“I’m okay with give and take, I really am. I want to give these guys freedom and I want to let them play. I’m not okay with take and take. I feel like that’s what we’ve got going right now. No give and take, just take and take. That’s been something that has been bantered about and something we’re going to take a look at. We’re going to have to take a look at everything because this just isn’t acceptable.” – Stallings on his team’s offensive struggles


Heels’ Momentum Stopped: UNC turned in one of the worst shooting halves of the Roy Williams’ era in Saturday’s 77-62 loss at Miami. The game was the second in less than 48 hours for the Tar Heels, and it seemed to show in their performance. The 62 points put up by the Tar Heels, a season low, was the product of an abysmal shooting night: UNC shot 35 percent from the field. Joel Berry was silenced in the matchup, as the junior guard was held to two points on 0-8 shooting. On the other side of the court, Miami freshman Bruce Brown dropped 30 points on only 11 shots to help his side complete the upset bid. UNC was without wing Theo Pinson, who missed the game after rolling his right ankle in Thursday’s win over Virginia Tech.

Pittsburgh Spotlight: Life in the ACC has proved difficult for almost every team, but none more than Kevin Stallings’s Panthers. In his first season after replacing Jamie Dixon, Stallings’s squad has a 1-7 record in the ACC and is riding a conference-worst six-game losing streak. The games have been a mixed bag during the slide, as they lost to Clemson by seven and N.C State by five, but also were clobbered by Louisville by 55 points. The Panthers are last in the ACC in field goal percentage (38.8) and in total points (542). They rank 13th in rebounding (267) and 14th in assists (100). Forward Jamel Artis is Pitt’s leading scorer, accounting for 21.1 points per game.

Dynamic Duo: Despite the poor conference record, the Panthers do possess two of the best scorers in the ACC. Artis leads the league and forward Michael Young is right behind him in third place with 20.3 points per game. Artis is a terror from anywhere on the court, as he’s shooting 55.8 percent from inside the 2-point line and 43.9 percent from beyond. Young and Artis lead the Panthers on the boards as well, as the duo accounts for 12.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Stallings, there’s little depth around the pair of standouts to help balance out the rotation.

Young’s Shooting Struggles: Despite his season averages, Young has struggled hitting the mark in Pitt’s last two games. The 235-pound senior has shot 20 percent (5-25) over the past week, including a poor 2-of-11 from three-point range. The slump is uncharacteristic for the versatile big man, who is shooting 44.9 percent from the field this year, and has shown to be a momentum killer for Stallings’s squad.

Matchup to Watch: Theo Pinson’s versatility would have come in handy against Artis, who moved to point guard from small forward in the preseason. The 6-foot-7 wing will present a challenge for UNC’s trio of point guards, none of whom stand taller than 6-foot-2. Pinson, however, is out for Tuesday’s game, so Joel Berry, Nate Britt and Seventh Woods will be tasked to defend Artis’s size. If those options fail, wings Kenny Williams and Justin Jackson may be called on to defend the ACC’s top scorer on the perimeter.

Stallings and Williams Connection: Stallings was hired in 1988 as an assistant at Kansas under Roy Williams. Stallings spent five years under Williams before being hired as the head coach at Illinois State.

Last Meeting: UNC defeated Pittsburgh, 88-71, in the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C. Joel Berry led the Tar Heels with 19 points, which started building the case for his eventual tournament MVP award. UNC shot an impressive 58.9 percent from the floor in the game, which is the fourth best in ACC tournament history.

Series Record: The Tar Heels lead the series, 10-3.

Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 4.0 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 12.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 18.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 6.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
5 Tony Bradley (6-11, 240, Fr.) – 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 5.2 ppg, 2.6 apg
1 Theo Pinson (6-6, 211, Jr.) – OUT (Ankle)

Projected Pittsburgh Starters:
1 Jamel Artis (6-7, 215, Sr.) – 21.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg
2 Michael Young (6-9, 235, Sr.) – 20.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg
21 Sheldon Jeter (6-8, 230, Sr.) – 7.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg
23 Cameron Johnson (6-8, 210, So.) – 11.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
12 Chris Jones (6-6, 215, Sr.) – 6.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
4 Ryan Luther (6-9, 225, Jr.) – 6.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg

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