Previewing UNC vs. St. Louis

Tonight, the UNC Tar Heels play their first true road game, and one of only two non-conference road games this entire season. I’ve heard of home for the holidays, but even as a partial journalist, I have to say that this aspect of our schedule is ridiculous.

UNC:

  • After the subpar performance against High Point and the blah game versus UNC-Asheville, I was starting to worry if the Heels had gotten sloppy. Boy, I shut up in a hurry after the FAU game. The Heels dominated from start to finish, outscoring the FAU Owls 65-18 in the first half.  I think they should be able to take that energy into this game.
  • I have been pleasantly surprised by the quick development of our freshmen. Wayne Ellington, Brendan Wright, and Ty Lawson all have earned their way into the starting lineup, which technically means that our starters (3 freshmen, 1 soph and 1 senior) are even younger than last year’s lineup (2 freshmen, 1 junior, 1 senior, and 1 Wes Miller). Wright’s presence takes a lot of heat off of Tyler Hansbrough (not that he minds getting his hands dirty), Wayne gives us a legitimate 3-point threat (no ‘Stairway’? denied!) ,and Ty Lawson is the fastest player on the court no matter who we play.

Saint Louis:

  • The Billikens are not exactly a pushover. They’re 9-2 and have an impressive 51-50 win over Missouri St., a contender in the almost-major Missouri Valley Conference. Their were crushed in their only top 25 game to Texas A&M 69-33, but they are undefeated at home.
  • Players to Watch:
  • Tommie Lidell, Guard. The local product is their best player statistically, averaging 13.5 ppg and 8.4 rpg and shoots 46% from downtown. He is only 6-4 but essentially a forward for this undersized team.
  • Ian Voyoukas, Center. The Hellenic Senior (seriously, he’s from Greece), at 6-10 and 270, is the only vestige of size on this team, and thus will carry the burden of defending  Hansbrough and Wright in the paint. He posts good stats (12.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg), but one stat is troubling for the BIllikens: 28 minutes per game. They will need at least 35 good minutes out of him if they have any chance to win.

I think that Saint Louis has a lot in its favor to compete. Still, I would be shocked if the Tar Heels were to get knocked off in this game. I think that Saint Louis will keep it close for 30 minutes, but UNC’s depth will help them pull away in the end.

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