Previewing Rutgers

Following final exams, the Tar Heels conclude their lengthy string of road games Sunday night at Rutgers. Tip-off in Piscataway, N.J. is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (8-0) vs. Rutgers (7-3)
Piscataway, N.J. - Louis Brown Athletic Center
8 p.m., ESPN

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Rutgers enters Sunday night's contest against North Carolina with a 7-3 mark on the season. Their victories have come against a soft schedule, however, with wins over N.C. Central, Dartmouth, NJIT, North Dakota State, Lafayette, Princeton and Tennessee Tech. Losses include Florida (88-63), Nebraska (63-51) and St. Peters (65-58). Junior forward J.R. Inman has led the charge for the Scarlet Knights, averaging 16.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Corey Chandler is contributing 13.2 points per contest, and junior guard Anthony Farmers is adding 9.5 points of his own.

Offensive struggles: Rutgers ranks second-to-last (15th) in the Big East with 65.8 points per game. That number is the result of a poor shooting percentage (40.3 percent) that currently holds the cellar spot in the conference, which is also accompanied by a paltry 8.6 assists per game mark. The Scarlet Knights are attempting 17 three-pointers a contest, but not many of those are falling as evidenced by a 28.5 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

Man in the Middle: Rarely does Rutgers land elite-level talent, but second-year head coach Fred Hill got his first big recruiting victory by signing 6-foot-11 center Hamady Ndiaye over Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Miami and more than two dozen other programs. The sophomore leads the BIG EAST and ranks seventh nationally in blocks with 3.8 rejections per game. The Dakar, Senegal native's statistics help Rutgers to hold down the No. 3 spot in the Big East with 6.1 blocked shots per game. And in case you were wondering, there's no known relation to former Tar Heel Makhtar Ndiaye.

The Inexperience Factor:With six returning lettermen on the squad, the Scarlet Knights are tied for the fewest number of veterans in the BIG EAST. Four of the six returning players have at least one full season of starting experience, with three competing as starters for at least two years.

Something's Got to Give: Rutgers is 6-0 at home this season, while North Carolina is 6-0 in away games.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels outran the Scarlet Knights, 87-48, on Dec. 28, 2006, in Chapel Hill. Rutgers shot 36.2 percent from the floor in the game. Freshman Brandan Wright led all scorers with 19 points, hitting 8-of-10 field goal attempts, and tied for team rebounding honors with seven boards. Classmate Wayne Ellington hit a career-high five three-pointers, going 5-of-6 behind the arc and finishing with 17 points. Fellow freshman Ty Lawson dished out a career-high nine assists and had zero turnovers. Sophomore Tyler Hansbrough scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds but hit just 5-of-13 field goal tries.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Rutgers, 8-1, and has won eight in a row over the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers won the first game in the series during the 1920-21 season. The teams did not face each other again until Feb. 11, 1978, and the teams then played six times in a nine-year span. This is the second game in the series to be played in New Jersey. The 1921 game was played in Piscataway. The programs met at Madison Square Garden in New York three times, in Greensboro twice and in Charlotte and Chapel Hill once.

Background
Location: New Brunswick, N.J.
Enrollment: 33,500
Conference: Big East
Nickname: Scarlet Knights
Color: Scarlet
Head Coach: Fred Hill
Record at RU: 17-22
Last Year: 10-19

Projected Starters:
 2 Anthony Farmer (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 9.5 ppg, 2.1 apg
 1 Corey Chandler (6-2, 190, Fr.) – 13.2 ppg, 2.1 spg
32 Jaron Griffin (6-7, 210, Jr.) - 8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
15 JR Inman (6-9, 220, Jr.) - 16.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg
 5 Hamady Ndiaye (6-11, 235, So.) – 5.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.8 bpg

Key Reserves:
31 Mike Coburn (6-0, 195, Fr.) – 6.7 ppg
21 Byron Joynes (6-9, 265, Sr.) – 2.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg

RU Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Inman ... Chandler


Griffin ... Ndiaye


Griffin ... Coburn


(Photos courtesy AP)

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