Smith Center, Chapel Hill
8:00 p.m., RJ
It was arguably the worst loss of the 2001-2002 North Carolina season.
A 58-54 defeat at home at the hands of the Davidson Wildcats, which dropped UNC to 0-2 and foretold of a woeful season to come.
And while the Tar Heel faithful eagerly seek retribution tonight, it won't come easy.
This year's Wildcats not only are experienced, but they are third in the nation in three-point shooting, at 44.5 percent.
"Seniors through freshmen, this might be the best shooting team we've ever had here," McKillop said.
Davidson is led by the senior backcourt of Wayne Bernard and Peter Anderer. Bernard is the playmaker (5.4 apg) who is also a double-digit scorer, while Anderer is a lights-out shooter (50% 3pt) and leading scorer (15.3 ppg). Together, they are a formidable backcourt on any level of college hoops.
"They've played side by side for four years," McKillop said. "They're best of friends and they just have a feel for each other. Peter plays off Wayne, just like a quarterback and a wide receiver."
Freshman Brendan Winters, the son of former NBA'er Brian Winters, has worked his way into the starting lineup, and been a valuable contributor (9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg). The rest of the frontcourt has a foreign feel, with Irish sophomore Conor Grace (10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) at power forward and Michael Lusakueno (6.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), from The Congo, at center.
The Wildcats play three deep on the bench, led by impressive freshmen Ian Johnson (14.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Matt McKillop (8.6 ppg, 47% 3pt), the coach's son. Terrell Ivory (2.9 ppg, 2.0 apg) will also see some time on the court backing up the two senior guards.
Davidson is 7-3 this season, with losses to Duke, Arizona and Florida State. They shot a mere 32 percent from beyond the arc in those defeats. The team's most impressive wins this season have come against Charlotte and St. Bonaventure.
The ties between the head coaches runs deep. Matt Doherty played under McKillop for two years at Holy Trinity (NY) HS and was an assistant for McKillop at Davidson as well.
Background Location: Davidson, N.C. Enrollment: 1,650 Conference: Southern Nickname: Wildcats Colors: Red and Black Head Coach: Bob McKillop Record at Dav.: 212-174 Last year Record: 21-10 Conference record: 11-5, t-1st Postseason: NCAA first round Probable Starting Lineup: Wayne Bernard (6-3, G, Sr.) – 13.4 ppg, 5.4 apg Peter Anderer (6-1, G, Sr.) – 15.3 ppg, 2.4 apg Brendan Winters (6-5, F, Fr.) – 9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg Conor Grace (6-8, F, So.) – 10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg Michael Lusakueno (6-10, C, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg Key Reserves: Ian Johnson (6-9, F, Fr.) – 14.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg Matt McKillop (6-2, G, Fr.) – 8.6 ppg, 47% 3pt Terrell Ivory (6-1, G, Jr.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.0 apg
Wayne Bernard ... Peter Anderer
Conor Grace ... Bob McKillop
(Photos courtesy the AP.)