Previewing Santa Clara

The North Carolina team may be made up of mostly new players, but last season's loss to Santa Clara is hard to forget. The Broncos, led by forward Travis Niesen, are 4-3 this season heading into Saturday's game in Chapel Hill against a Tar Heel team coming off a week-plus break. Tip-off at the Smith Center is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised by Fox Sports South.

North Carolina (5-1) vs. Santa Clara (4-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
8 p.m., FSS

PREGAME NOTES

Season To Date: Santa Clara has posted wins over Cal State Stanislaus, Pacific, San Jose State and Cal Poly. Against Pacific, the Broncos trailed 14-0 early before mounting a comeback. And at San Jose State, it took a Travis Niesen layup as time expired for a 47-46 win. The losses have been against their three toughest opponents -- UC Irvine, Mississippi State and Oregon. Santa Clara is 1-3 this season on the road.

Niesen: Senior power forward Travis Niesen is the focal point of the Broncos offense, as evidenced by his 21.3 points per game and by the fact that he's the only player on the team averaging double-digit shot attempts per game. The preseason all-conference standout stands only 6-7, but is tough to defend, as the Tar Heels found out when he hit 10-of-14 shots for 26 points in last season's meeting. Niesen has some quality post moves and can step out and hit the perimeter shot as well (40% 3pt). "Travis means a great deal to our team as a player, a leader and a competitor," says head coach Dick Davey. "He can score on anyone he plays against and defensively he is a great communicator, which is a tremendous quality."

Instant Impact: Freshman Calvin Johnson has quickly worked his way into the starting lineup. With sharpshooter Brody Angley struggling to find his mark on threes (31%), Johnson has picked up the slack. He's shooting 46.2 percent thus far from beyond the arc, including 5-of-8 in the season opener and 6-of-10 against Cal Poly last week. The 6-2 Texas native has started the last three games.

Sidelined: Starting center Sean Denison (5.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) suffered a low-grade stress fracture in his right foot and is not expected to play against the Tar Heels.

Series History: This will be the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools. UNC won easily in matchups in 1981 and 1982, but last season's loss in Oakland will be on most people's minds Saturday. In the 2004-05 season opener, Santa Clara stunned the highly-ranked Tar Heels, 77-66, who were playing without star point guard Raymond Felton. It would be the only non-conference loss for the eventual national champions.

Background
Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
Enrollment: 8,213
Conference: West Coast
Nickname: Broncos
Colors: Red & White
Head Coach: Dick Davey
Record at SC: 221-167

Projected Starters:
05 Brody Angley (5-11, 195, So.) – 10.0 ppg, 3.9 apg
24 Calvin Johnson (6-2, 200, Fr.) – 11.0 ppg, 46% 3pt
21 Mitch Henke (6-7, 205, So.) - 8.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg
41 Travis Nieson (6-7, 220, Sr.) – 21.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg
54 John Bryant (6-11, 329, Fr.) - 4.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg

Key Reserves:
10 Brandon Rohe (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 6.3 ppg
13 Okechukwu Mbanugo (6-9, 210, Fr.) – 2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg
14 Joey Kaempf (6-1, 180, Sr.) – 0.7 ppg, .6 rpg

SC Info
Schedule
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Niesen ... Henke


Angley ... Mbanugo


Rohe ... Johnson

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