Previewing Rutgers

The Tar Heels return to action Monday following a brief holiday break. Tip-off against Rutgers is set for 8:30 p.m. at the Smith Center and will be televised by ESPN2.

North Carolina (9-3) vs. Rutgers (9-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
8:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)

Quotables

"I really think that we can go out and run with those guys this year..." -- sophomore guard Mike Rosario on facing UNC again

"I don't know what to say about it, besides it was outstanding. It's about as good as it gets." – Rutgers head coach Fred Hill following his team's school-record 18 blocks last Tuesday

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Rutgers enters Monday's contest with a 9-2 record. Fred Hill's squad is in the midst of a six-game win streak (the program's longest since December 2001) after losing to Florida (73-58) on Nov. 28. The other loss occurred against Vermont (77-71) on Nov. 22. The Scarlet Knights are holding their opponents to 36.8 percent shooting while knocking down 44.1 percent of their own shots.

Sophomore Standout: Mike Rosario has been able to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump in New Jersey, leading his program and ranking seventh in the Big East in scoring with 17.7 points per outing. The 6-foot-3 guard is connecting on 38.0 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts (27-of-71), but just 41.4 percent of his total opportunities (65-of-157). Rosario's 4.9 rebounds per game rank third best on the team, but his 29 turnovers rank first in 33.9 minutes of action.

Knights Blocking Away Rutgers set a school record with 18 blocks, including a career-high 10 rejections by senior center Hamady Ndiaye, in a 66-42 win over St. Peters on Dec. 22. Ndiaye's 10 blocks are the most by a Scarlet Knight since Chuck Weiler swatted 10 against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 16, 1992 and ranks as the second-most in school history. Rutgers currently ranks third nationally in blocks, disrupting 9.55 shots per outing.

A Significant Loss: Gregory Echenique will not return to action this season and will seek a medical redshirt after having surgery to treat a detached retina on his left eye on Dec. 9. The problem first arose in the fall after the 6-foot-9, 280-pounder was accidentally poked in the eye by a teammate. The sophomore center started the first seven games of the season, averaging 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest while knocking down 61 percent (28-46) of his field goal attempts.

Last Meeting: Tyler Hansbrough scored 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in directing No. 1 North Carolina to a 97-75 victory over Rutgers at the Smith Center on Dec. 28, 2008. Rosario scored 26 points to lead the Scarlet Knights.

Series History: This contest marks the 12th all-time meeting between Rutgers and UNC on the collegiate hardwood dating back to 1921, with the Tar Heels winning the last 10 match-ups to hold a 10-1 advantage in the series. Monday's game signals the fourth meeting in four seasons between the clubs.

Projected Starters:
31 Mike Coburn (6-0, 185, Jr.) - 6.9 ppg, 4.4 apg
3 Mike Rosario (6-3, 180, So.) – 17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg
23 Patrick Jackson (6-6, 210, So.) – 3.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
24 Jonathan Mitchell (6-7, 225, Jr.) – 8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg
5 Hamady Ndiaye (7-0, 235, Sr.) – 9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.7 bpg

Top Reserves:
11 James Beatty (6-2, 195, Jr.) – 5.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg
11 Dane Miller (6-7, 210, Fr.) – 5.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg
21 Austin Johnson (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 2.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Background
Location: New Brunswick, N.J.
Enrollment: 52,471
Conference: Big East
Nickname: Scarlet Knights
Colors: Scarlet & White
Head Coach: Fred Hill
Record at RU: 41-62

RU Info
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