Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
8 p.m., RJ
"One of the keys will be to not let them force us into 20-plus turnovers. Their defense creates the tempo they like and leads to easy baskets for them. I guess you could call that their ‘spurtability.'" -- UNCW Head Coach Brad Brownell
"I want them to look around and enjoy the atmosphere, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Dean Dome. But they have to realize on game day that we need to focus on what's going on inside 94 feet just like any other gym. It's not easy since it's on television with 20,000 fans, but that's what our message will be." -- UNCW Head Coach Brad Brownell
"The reason we're playing Wilmington is because they agreed to play us last year in Myrtle Beach, so we could take Raymond [Felton] back into his area. If that scenario hadn't been there, I don't know if we would be playing either one of these games. -- UNC head coach Roy Williams
"We've got to continue to get better in every area. When they do come back from four days off, the first thing you're concerned about is conditioning. You can't get in shape in three or four days, but you can certainly go out of shape. ... I'm not satisfied with our rebounding. I think our box-out effort has slipped over the last couple of weeks, but that's not the only thing I feel we have to work on." -- UNC head coach Roy Williams
Last Year's Meeting: The Tar Heels were held to 23 points in the first half, their lowest first-half total of the season, but shot 60% in the second half to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 71-54 final score. Both Jawad Williams (concussion) and Sean May (ankle) were victims of a physical contest, played before a sold-out crowd in the small Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Melvin Scott had a game-high 19 points.
Season To Date: UNCW is 5-3 heading into its game in Chapel Hill. The Seahawks have recorded narrow wins over Marshall, UNC Asheville, Va. Commonwealth and Coastal Carolina, while routing Campbell. Their losses have been at North Texas, home against Illinois-Chicago and at Charleston.
Fools Gold: Top scorer John Goldsberry, a 6-3 guard, will miss the UNC game and be sidelined about a month because of a shoulder sprain, the school announced on Monday. Goldsberry has started every game for the Seahawks and leads the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), field goal percentage (.557) and 3-point field goal accuracy (.512). "Basketball is a team sport and I expect our other players to adjust to new roles and pick up the slack while he's gone," said head coach Brad Brownell.
More Pain: Goldsberry isn't the only UNCW starter suffering from injury. His backcourt mate, Ed Spencer, has been bothered by a nagging injury to his right index finger, and on a related note has been in a shooting slump, hitting only 6-of-30 from the field, and 2-of-11 three-pointers in his last four games. "Ed's been bothered by the jammed finger on his shooting hand and it's affected him the last few weeks," Brownell said. "Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to get it healthy."
Bench Spark: With Spencer slumping, sophomore reserve guard T.J. Carter has filled the scoring void. He averaged only 3.6 points last year, but has come on strong this season, leading the team in scoring twice and is now the second-leading scorer at 11.7 points/game. With Goldsberry out, the Seahawks will need his increased production even more.
Long Range Aces: The Seahawks are shooting an impressive 39.7% on three-pointers, including 51% from Goldsberry and 46% from Carter. The two have combined to shoot 33-67 from beyond the arc.
Close Calls: UNCW has seen five of its first eight games this season decided by five points or less and they are 4-1 in those games.
Grinding It Out: During the last decade, the Seahawks have built a reputation as a team that slows the tempo, plays stifling defense and therefore forces tough, low-scoring games. This year, they've held opponents to 62.2 points/game, but have allowed a field goal percentage defense of 44.2. They have shot less than 40 percent in four of eight games this season, while their opponents have not shot less than 40 percent thus far this season.
Background Location: Wilmington, N.C. Enrollment: 12,000 Conference: Colonial Nickname: Seahawks Colors: Teal, Navy & Gold Head Coach: Brad Brownell Record at UNCW: 44-25
Projected Starters: 2 T.J. Carter (6-3, G, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg 21 Ed Spencer (6-2, G, Sr.) – 8.5 ppg, 3.6 apg 33 Halston Lane (6-6, F, Sr.) - 5.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg 20 Taylor Lay (6-7, F, Jr.) - 5.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg 34 Mitch Laue (6-7, F, Jr.) – 8.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg Key Reserves: 00 Aaron Coombs (6-11, C, Sr.) – 5.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg 42 Beckham Wyrick (6-6, F, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg 31 Dejan Grkovic (6-8, F, So.) – 3.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Spencer ... Goldsberry
Wyrick ... Lay
Lane ... Laue
(UNCW Sports Info contributed to this report and provided the photos, unless noted otherwise.)