Ohio preview

The Tar Heels take a late break from the ACC schedule Wednesday night for a mid-major battle with Ohio University of the Mid-American Conference. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Center and the game will be nationally televised by ESPN2.

Ohio (15-8, 9-5) at North Carolina (7-16, 3-10)
Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill (N.C.)
7:30 p.m.
Radio: (Listen Live)

Doherty Pregame Quotes:
"We had a nice win against Florida State. I thought we played well -- it's nice to have guys put the ball in the basket ... Then we turn around and play a game out of conference against Ohio. Last year we had that gap of a week and I think the consensus was, not only in the media but more importantly with our team, we like to fill that gap and keep a rhythm to the season and we'll see how that works for us.

"Ohio U has an RPI that's higher than ours. People don't see Ohio U on TV every week, but they're a darn good basketball team. They have a kid named Brandon Hunter who'd start for any team in the country.

"They're a scary team. Tim O'Shea does a good job with them and we'll have to be ready to play -- and we won't be 100 percent."

UNC Injury News:
Freshman Jawad Williams is listed as doubtful due to a right ankle sprain suffered in Sunday's win over FSU. "I don't think Jawad will play," Doherty said on Tuesday. Williams is averaging 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this year. He is third on the team in scoring and rebounding behind seniors Jason Capel and Kris Lang.

Ohio Season to Date: The Bobcats are 15-8 (9-5) heading into Chapel Hill with an RPI of 105 under first-year coach Tim O'Shea. They've lost to some solid teams, such as Wisconsin and St. Bonaventure early in the season, and a likely NCAA-bound Kent St. squad in Jan. Ohio's best RPI-based win of the season was over Ball State (67) two weeks ago. Some rough conference upsets to the likes of Akron, Western Michigan and Miami-Ohio have kept the Bobcats from emerging as a MAC frontrunner. (2001-2002 Schedule w/Results)

This is a team the Tar Heels can by no means overlook. The Bobcats are led by bruising 6-7, 260-pound power forward Brandon Hunter. After earning first team all-conference honors last year, Hunter is putting up big numbers once again. Joining Hunter in the paint at center is lean senior shotblocker Patrick Flomo. Junior small forward Steve Esterkamp is the top three point shooter (46.2 percent) on a team that shoots an impressive 38 percent. Esterkamp is also a defensive talent, recording a school record nine steals in a recent win over Marshall. The starting backcourt of Jason Crawford and Zack Kiekow doesn't post big numbers, but the Bobcats pack quite a punch off the bench. Cleveland State transfer Sonny Johnson leads the nation in sixth-man scoring, while forward Jon Sanderson and guard Jaivon Harris are solid contributors and very good three-point shooters.

Probable Starting Lineup:
Zack Kiekow (6-1, Fr., G) 2.8 pts, 1.7 ast
Jason Crawford (6-4, Sr., G) 1.9 pts
Steve Esterkamp (6-6, Jr., F) 12.4 pts, 46% 3pt
Brandon Hunter (6-7, Jr., F) 18.3 pts, 9.4 reb
Patrick Flomo (6-9, Sr., C) 6.4 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.9 blk

Key Reserves:
Sonny Johnson (6-5, Jr., F) 16.5 pts, 3.3 reb
Jon Sanderson (6-7, Sr., F) 8.4 pts, 41% 3pt
Jaivon Harris (6-5, So., G) 7.7 pts, 3.2 ast

Team Roster
Season Stats

Photo Gallery:

Brandon Hunter

Steve Esterkamp

Sonny Johnson

Head coach Tim O'Shea

(Photos courtesy Ohio Sports Info)

Location: Athens, Ohio.
Enrollment: 16,332
Conference: Mid-American
Nickname: Bobcats
Colors: Hunter Green and White
Head Coach: Tim O'Shea
Career Record: 1st year

Series History: Ohio and North Carolina have met only once in the history of the two programs. The Tar Heels shot 63 percent from the field in routing the Bobcats, 99-57, on Dec. 14, 1985. Brad Daugherty led UNC with 17 points.

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