Article by: Lance Dunlap
Coming off a solid win over the Clemson Tigers, North Carolina (12-7, 2-4 ACC) will head to Atlanta Wednesday night to play ACC foe Georgia Tech (11-9, 2-5 ACC). The Yellow Jackets are recovering from a stinging overtime loss to NC State in Raleigh this past Sunday. Both UNC & GT currently only have 2 wins in ACC play and a win for either will put them solidly in the middle of the packed ACC standings. This year, Georgia Tech doesn’t appear to get a great advantage from playing at home in McCamish Pavilion. So far this season, GT has defeated Illinois and Norte Dame in the Pavilion while losing to Dayton and Miami in the same arena. On the other side of the coin, the Tar Heels have most certainly struggled on the road, losing all of their ACC road games thus far this season (at Wake Forest, Syracuse, and Virginia).
Carolina fans not as familiar with this year’s Georgia Tech squad can expect to see Trae Golden (6’2” senior transfer from Tennessee) as the prime scoring option for the Yellow Jackets’ offense. Golden currently leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game, having some better games recently with 18 points against NC State and 22 points vs Pitt. On the defensive end of the court, the Jackets are anchored by their mammoth center, Daniel Miller (6’11” 275 lbs senior center). Miller is currently averaging 8 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per contest, including a 14 rebound performance vs NC State and 5 blocks against Pitt. While Miller doesn’t have the offensive skillset of many NBA-hopeful big men in college basketball, he is efficient and is shooting 60% from the field on the year. To play well against GT, North Carolina will need to focus on these players, keeping the ball out of Golden’s hands and letting UNC’s post offense go against the post defender opposite Miller.
Tar Heel fans should expect James Michael McAdoo to continue his strong play against Georgia Tech as McAdoo has made 20 of 33 field goal attempts in UNC’s last three games. McAdoo was also named the defensive player of the game against Clemson by Roy Williams, showing that his entire game is warming up here in ACC play. The play of Marcus Paige has been a little up and down recently, but overall he continues to make good decisions for UNC and is clearly an overall positive for the team. Paige went 4-14 from the field for 9 points in a loss to UVA, but had 15 points vs Clemson and 21 points against Boston College. The biggest X-factor may be the newest member of Carolina’s starting line-up, Kennedy Meeks. If he continues his good play (very polished for a freshman) and is able to keep his stamina up for stretches, his size and talent will prove trouble for GT.
A win on the road in Atlanta could provide some away-from-home confidence for a Carolina team that hasn’t won outside the Dean Dome since their December 4th victory in East Lansing over Michigan State (almost two months ago). A loss could be devastating for this young group of Tar Heels that need to string together consistent victories if they hope to find themselves seeded for the NCAA tourney. If Roy Williams’ track record mid-season at North Carolina is any indicator, Tar Heel fans should expect good things from this team. Don’t forget, it was around this time last year that Roy Williams inserted PJ Hairston into the starting line-up and UNC went on a 6-game win streak in the ACC.