Heels lick wounds, seek milestone win

North Carolina (8-2) looks to rebound from a lackluster performance at Kentucky when it hosts future ACC member Miami Wednesday night at the Smith Center. This one is no gimmee, especially considering the Hurricanes' OT win over the Tar Heels last season and the possible leftover effects from last weekend.

"We're very disappointed in the loss at Lexington," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

Growing pains have become evident over the past few contests as Williams tries to quickly turn what is essentially the same cast from last year's 19-16 squad, into the perennial national powerhouse that Carolina is expected to be.

Williams hopes he doesn't have to make many more in-game statements by benching his most effective players.

"I think they understand," he said. "Part of learning is somebody teaching and somebody learning and understanding. But the major part is changing behavior, and I think that's what we've got to work on now. We've got to make sure we make changes to what we're doing."

Williams reiterated that he believes his relationship with his players, especially the enigmatic Rashad McCants, is not becoming strained.

"The Cleveland State game was an isolated incident," Williams said concerning one of McCants' benchings earlier in the season. "In that game, he came back and played well in the second half. In Myrtle Beach, he came back and played well in the second half. And he was not the only one that I sat down Saturday. Everybody said, ‘Well, you sat down Rashad, you sat down Rashad,' but there were some other guys that sat down with him.

"I don't perceive that it's going to be a problem," he continued. "We're trying to do some teaching and we're trying to emphasize some things, and we're going to continue doing that. Playing is not a right; it's a privilege. It's a privilege that you earn and you've got to play well. If you don't play well, you don't get as much time.

"I didn't think Justin Bohlander played well in the first half and I didn't use him at all in the second half. I didn't think Rashad played well either, but I kept giving him opportunities because of his good play in the past. I thought his play this year had warranted him that luxury.

"I've talked to Rashad about that, and if you want to stay in the game then play better. That's the deal."

With one of the most competitive ACC schedules about to get underway in earnest, perhaps it would be easy for Carolina to look ahead to No. 8 Georgia Tech, which invades Chapel Hill Sunday night. But last season in Coral Gables – again, against a UNC team with basically the same personnel as this year's – the Hurricanes (10-3) held the Tar Heels without a field goal in the final 12 minutes of the game to take a 64-61 decision in overtime.

"We're not good enough that we can start looking past people to games down the line," Williams said. "We've got to play the next one coming up. One of my assistants has already started looking at Georgia Tech, and I will after the Miami game."

If UNC can pick up the win over Miami, it will be the 200th to take place in the Smith Center since it's opening in January of 1986. The Tar Heels are 199-42 all-time in the building affectionately known as the Dean Dome, including a 92-11 record against non-conference foes.

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