No. 8 North Carolina eyes season sweep of Miami
Everything seems to be going so well for No. 8 North Carolina that the Tar Heels just have to make sure Miami doesn't get in the way before a significant showdown on Monday.
North Carolina goes for a season sweep of the visiting Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C.
"Everybody has got to be playing close to their potential if we want to be really good," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "We've got to play (well) every single night and see what the heck happens."
North Carolina (18-4, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which is riding a six-game winning streak, shares first place in the conference with No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Virginia. If the Tar Heels win Saturday, they will share first place with the Duke-Virginia winner from later that night. Then there's Monday night's game, when the Cavaliers visit Chapel Hill.
This recent stretch for the Tar Heels includes avenging their lone league loss to Louisville.
"We have all bought in coming together as a team," freshman guard Coby White said. "We all have one common goal to win, and everybody is out there trying to win and doing what is best for the team."
Senior forward Luke Maye did some of his best work in a 31-point performance Tuesday night against North Carolina State. That came in a 113-96 home victory.
Now Williams has been harping on the importance of improving.
"We can't stay the same," senior guard Cameron Johnson said. "We have to get better. ... We want to take this thing a lot further than that, and no one is sitting here satisfied after being 8-1 in conference. We have much bigger goals than that."
North Carolina notched an 85-76 victory Jan. 19 at Miami.
Miami (10-12, 2-8) rose out of sole possession of last place in the ACC with Wednesday night's home victory against Notre Dame, snapping a five-game losing streak.
While North Carolina was putting together a huge offensive outing earlier this week, the Hurricanes notched their best defensive performance in the 62-47 triumph.
"At least I hope it was good defense," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "I know they missed some wide-open shots, but I think overall we defended and we rebounded. This is the first game we outrebounded someone in a very long time."
In the game, Miami held a halftime lead for the first time in a month.
The Hurricanes showed they could win despite not having a smooth offensive outing. Their four 3-pointers (on 22 attempts) matched a season low.
Miami junior Dejan Vasiljevic recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"Coach L talked about how the ACC is played in like two parts -- first nine games and the next nine," Vasiljevic said. "Some results didn't go our way in the first nine games, and he told us to forget about it and focus on the next nine, and it's a good start (at) 1-0. We just got to continue it against UNC."
Miami has some concern regarding senior center Ebuka Izundu, whose cramping issues limited him in the second half. This has been a repeat problem for him.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 7, 2019