UNC-KU: Game Notes

NEW YORK -- The North Carolina Tar Heels are quickly becoming the biggest spots story in the nation.

After finishing last season with five more losses than had ever been recorded by a UNC basketball team, youthful Carolina improved to 4-0 after stomping No. 2 Kansas before a crowd of 10,758 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Led by Rashad McCants' 25 points and excellent man-to-man defense, the Heels advanced to the Preseason NIT championship game where they will face Stanford, upset winner over Florida in the evening's first game.

Here are some of the notes from UNC's victory.

***The last time Carolina started a season 4-0 was in the 1998-99 campaign, when they won eight games before losing (66-64 to College of Charleston).

***With the win, Carolina now leads the series with KU, 6-2.

***This was the first meeting between the Jayhawks and Tar Heels since UNC defeated KU, 78-68, in the 1993 Final Four. Two days later Carolina captured Dean Smith's second – and the school's third – national title.

***Tonight was the third consecutive time UNC and Kansas have faced each other in a semifinals game. Tonight was the semifinals of the Preseason NIT. Ten (78-68 UNC) and 12 (79-73 KU) years ago they met in the NCAA tournament Final Four.

***The Heels and Jayhawks also played for the 1957 NCAA title, with the undersized Tar Heels beating Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas 54-53 in three overtimes.

**Kansas coach Roy Williams was an assistant at UNC from 1978-87.

***UNC coach Matt Doherty was an assistant at Kansas from 1993-99.

***Former UNC coach Dean Smith played at Kansas and was on the school's 1952 NCAA championship team.

***With the victory, the Tar Heels improved to 23-6 in games played in the current Madison Square Garden.

***UNC's losses in the current Madison Square Garden: Dec., 1968, St. John's (72-70); March, 1970, Manhattan (90-85 OT); March, 1973, Notre Dame (78-71); Nov. 1988, Missouri (91-81); Jan. 1992, Notre Dame (88-76); Nov. 1993, UMass (91-86 OT).

***Interestingly, UNC defeated Duke, 73-67, at MSG on March 25, 1971, in the postseason NIT. The Tar Heels defeated Georgia Tech, which wasn't yet in the ACC, two days later, 84-66, to win the NIT title.

***This is Carolina's youngest team ever. UNC has just nine players on basketball scholarship. Five are freshmen, three are sophomore and one is a senior. UNC also has a senior who is on Morehead Scholarship and a freshman who is walking on this year, but will be on scholarship next season. UNC wasn't able to offer David Noel a basketball scholarship this year because there reached their limit regarding the 5/8 rule, meaning a school can't sign more than five players in one year and eight over a two year stretch.

***Over the first 49 years of ACC basketball, UNC has averaged eight juniors and seniors its preseason rosters. Prior to this year the fewest number of juniors and seniors on a roster was four, which was in the 1990-91 season when UNC had three senior starters (Rick Fox, King Rice, Pete Chilcut) and junior starter Hubert Davis.

***According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Carolina is the youngest team in the nation.

***UNC started three freshmen in the opening game this season for the first time ever. Tonight's starting lineup: Sophomores Jackie Manuel and Jawad Williams and freshmen McCants, Felton and May.

****Scott and Manuel were the first freshmen to start in backcourt together last year.

***Jawad Williams was the 17th freshman to ever start his first game for UNC last year. That number is now up to 20.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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