North Carolina (26-2, 11-2) vs. Boston College (13-13, 4-9)
Chestnut Hill, Mass. - Conte Forum
3:30 p.m., ABC
"The thing is, as I told them in the locker room, we've got to make up our minds if we're going to come out and compete and at least show a little pride within ourselves. But the fact of the matter is, we're going to have to at least fight back." – Boston College head coach Al Skinner, following Tuesday’s 67-48 loss at Virginia Tech
“We’re not just facing the decisions of who to play and how many minutes. We’re trying to base the decision on what to do best to beat Boston College, and that is literally our focus once we get on the court… That is our emphasis during practice. It’s not the emphasis during every press conference because it’s always about the injuries, but it is what we have to focus on.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams
Season to Date: Boston College enters the second meeting of the season between these two programs on Saturday with a 13-13 (4-9 ACC) record. The Eagles has lost nine of their last 10 games, dating back to an 84-66 loss at Virginia on Jan. 19. Their lone victory during that stretch was an 82-65 home victory against N.C. State on Valentine’s Day. Al Skinner’s squad has only broken the 70-point mark four times during the last 10 outings, and needed overtime to score more than 70 points in a loss to Virginia Tech (81-73) on Jan. 26.
Getting Better With Age: Tyrese Rice is averaging 20.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game this season, but his numbers are even more impressive in ACC contests. The junior point guard is averaging 21.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in league play, and ranks among the ACC statistical leaders in five categories: scoring (second), assists (third), free-throw percentage (eighth, .819), assist-turnover ratio (eighth, 1.48) and minutes played per game (first, 38.92).
Southern Charms: Josh Southern may be one of the few Eagles that have positive memories from the 91-69 loss in Chapel Hill on Jan. 31. The freshman forward saw his first significant ACC action against the Tar Heels, posting eight points and three rebounds in 21 minutes. The Saginaw, Mich. posted career-highs in points (11) and rebounds (10) in the Feb. 23 loss to Florida State (66-63). Southern, who saw limited action in the team’s first 18 games, is averaging 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game in the last eight games.
Youth Movement: Southern is not the only freshman on Skinner’s squad that has been productive in recent weeks. Guard Biko Paris and wing Corey Raji recently started their first collegiate games (Maryland and Virginia Tech, respectively), while Rakim Sanders (11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg) continues to be a force starting alongside Rice at the off guard spot. During the team’s last eight outings, that foursome has combined to average 27.1 points and 14.5 rebounds.
Doghouse Blues: Tyler Roche (4.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg) has seen his minutes decrease dramatically over the past month. After playing 26 and 20 minutes against Duke and N.C. State, respectively, the sophomore forward did not see any action in recent games against Virginia and Virginia Tech. He did play 13 minutes at Florida State on Feb. 23, which took place in between the contests with the Cavaliers and the Hokies. The Hooksett, N.H. native’s status on Saturday will once again be a coach’s decision.
Last Meeting: North Carolina went on a 21-0 run to seize control and cruised to a 91-69 win over Boston College on Jan. 31, 2008, at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Tyler Hansbrough led the team with 18 points and also grabbed six rebounds, while Deon Thompson set a career high with 17 points and tied his career bests with four assists and three steals in the victory. Ty Lawson added 16 points and 10 assists, and Wayne Ellington contributed 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Series History: North Carolina leads the series with the Eagles, 5-3. The Tar Heels are 1-0 against Boston College in Chestnut Hill, winning there last season, 77-72, on Feb. 17, 2007. Prior to UNC’s wins in the last three meetings, the Eagles had won three games in a row in the series (in the 1994 NCAA Tournament and twice in 2005-06).
4 Tyrese Rice (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 20.4 ppg, 4.9 apg
15 Rakim Sanders (6-5, 225, Fr.) – 11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
11 Corey Raji (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 7.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg
32 John Oates (6-10, 255, Sr.) – 4.3 ppg, 3.2 reb
44 Tyrelle Blair (6-11, 242, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.5 bpg
34 Shamari Spears (6-6, 238, So.) - 10.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg
5 Biko Paris (6-1, 200, Fr.) – 5.9 ppg, 3.0 apg
21 Tyler Roche (6-7, 220, So.) - 4.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg
52 Josh Southern (6-10, 255, Fr.) – 3.9 ppg, 2.9 reb
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