North Carolina (10-4, 0-1) vs. Miami (10-3, 1-0)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Thursday, 7 p.m.
ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Jay Bilas, Jeanine Edwards)
“One of the key statistics with Carolina is they’re 7-0 at home. The nice thing for our players is we’ve been on the road. We’ve played at UMass, at Central Florida, at Georgia Tech, also very good teams in hostile environments. Hopefully we’ll be ready.” – Miami head coach Jim Larranaga
“They’re guard influenced, but they’re not just completely guard dominated.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams
Season to Date: Miami enters Thursday’s contest with a 10-3 (1-0 ACC) record. The Hurricanes own a quality win over No. 18 Michigan State, but also have head-scratching losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State. Larranaga’s second squad in Miami lost to No. 4 Arizona, 69-50, on Dec. 23, but won its ACC opener over Georgia Tech, 62-49, on Saturday. According to realtimerpi.com, Miami has played the third-toughest schedule to date nationally and is No. 6 in the RPI standings.
Guard Duo Damage: Senior Durand Scott and sophomore Shane Larkin represent one of the more formidable backcourt tandems in the ACC, combining for 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. Larkin is connecting on 43.4 percent of his 3-point attempts (23-of-53), while Scott is netting 34.5 percent from long range (10-of-29). Both players rank among the top-3 in the ACC in minutes played per game, along with Boston College’s Joe Rahon. Larkin is logging 36.1 minutes per game; Scott checks in at 35.7.
Johnson Out: Senior center Reggie Johnson (12.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg) broke his left thumb during a practice in Honolulu on Dec. 21 and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native had blocked 13 shots through seven games, although he was only converting 42.6 percent of his field goal attempts. Durham, N.C. senior forward Julian Gamble has moved into Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup.
Emerging Forward: With Johnson sidelined, senior forward Kenny Kadji has elevated his play to make up for the monumental loss. The 6-foot-11, 242-pounder with a solid outside touch is averaging 14.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over his last four games. The Douala, Cameroon native has posted back-to-back double-doubles in wins over La Salle and Georgia Tech.
Downright Defensive: The Hurricanes rank fourth in the ACC and 18th nationally in field goal percentage defense (37.4), while also averaging 4.6 blocks and 7.3 steals per game. Miami represents UNC’s third opponent in five games that ranks in the top-20 nationally in field goal percentage defense.
Stat to Watch: Miami is 0-3 this season when shooting under 40 percent from the floor.
Random Fact of the Day: Miami is looking to go 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 2004-05.
Last Meeting: No. 8 North Carolina defeated Miami, 73-64, in Coral Gables, Fla. on Feb. 16, 2012. Harrison Barnes scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. John Henson added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who shot 38.2 percent from the floor.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Miami, 18-2.
0 Shane Larkin (5-11, 176, So.) - 12.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
1 Durand Scott (6-5, 203, Sr.) - 14.7 ppg, 2.8 apg
4 Trey McKinney Jones (6-5, 220, Sr.) - 9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
35 Kenny Kadji (6-11, 242, Sr.) - 11.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg
45 Julian Gamble (6-10, 250, Sr.) - 5.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
15 Rion Brown (6-6, 200, Jr.) - 6.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Roster & Bios
(Photos by USA Today Sports)