Previewing Nevada

The undefeated and top-ranked Tar Heels return to action Thursday against Nevada. Tip-off at the Smith Center is at 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

North Carolina (11-0) vs. Nevada (7-4)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
7 p.m., ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Len Elmore)

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada enters Thursday night's game at the Smith Center with a 7-4 record. The Wolf Pack is riding a five-game winning streak with wins over Northern Iowa, Colorado State, Central Florida, San Diego and Montana State. Ironically, Nevada lost to UNLV 79-67 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend only minutes before North Carolina beat Old Dominion 99-82 several miles away at the Orleans Arena.

New Year, New Team: The Wolf Pack returns just one starter from last year's school-record 29-5 team – 2007 first-team All-WAC selection Marcelus Kemp. The Seattle, Wash. senior is a do-it-all guard that averages 19.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He is the lone upperclassman in fourth-year head coach Mark Fox's starting lineup and attended an NBA Draft camp last spring before deciding to return to Reno. Sophomore seven-footer JaVale McGee is contributing 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds, while leading the WAC with 3.5 blocks per contest (8th nationally). Fellow sophomore Brandon Fields is adding 12.5 points and 3.5 assists from his guard spot and is knocking down 45.7 percent of his three-point attempts (21-of-46) on the season.

Junior guard Lyndale Burleson totaled eight points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal during Saturday's win at Northern Iowa. That game marked his first action of the year after being declared academically ineligible to start the season. The Seattle, Wash. native averaged 15.2 minutes per game during the 2006-07 season, accumulating 73 assists and 25 steals against just 29 turnovers.

In-state Connection: The Wolf Pack roster features one player from the state of North Carolina in Charlotte native Malik Cooke. An all-state and all-conference selection during his junior and senior seasons, Cooke attended The Christ School in Arden, N.C., where he led his team to 3A state championships in 2005 and 2007. The freshman forward has played in all 11 games this season, contributing 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11 minutes of action per contest.

Coaching Ties: Fox got an up close look at North Carolina head coach Roy Williams' coaching style during the 1993-94 season. The Garden City, Kansas native was able to observe the Jayhawks' program when he took a one year break from coaching to complete his master's degree in athletic administration/sports psychology at the University of Kansas.

Series History: North Carolina holds a 2-0 record against Nevada all-time. The Tar Heels prevailed in Reno, 115-91, during the 1987-88 season and then beat Nevada in Chapel Hill the following season, 109-86. This year's game marks the beginning of a 2-for-1 series that will see the Tar Heels travel to Reno before returning for a final clash in Chapel Hill. The future meetings will be scheduled at a later date.

Background
Location: Reno, Nev.
Enrollment: 17,000
Conference: Western Athletic
Nickname: Wolf Pack
Color: Navy Blue & Silver
Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record at UN: 88-22
Last Year: 29-5

Projected Starters:
 0 Brandon Fields (6-4, 185, So.) – 12.5 ppg, 3.5 apg
 3 Armon Johnson (6-3, 190, Fr.) - 9.7 ppg, 3.0 apg
21 Marcelus Kemp (6-5, 210, Sr.) – 19.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg
13 Matt LaGrone (6-8, 230, So.) - 2.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg
34 JaVale McGee (7-0, 237, So.) – 12.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.5 bpg

Key Reserves:
 1 Lyndale Burleson (6-3, 190, Jr.) – 8.0 ppg
 4 Demarshay Johnson (6-9, 220, Sr.) – 7.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
15 Malik Cooke (6-5, 200, Fr.) – 2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
25 David Ellis (7-1, 222, Sr.) – 2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg

UN Info
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Stats
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Photo Gallery


Fields ... McGee


Burleson ... Johnson


LaGrone... Fox


(Photos courtesy AP)

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