Sun, 26 Jan 2020

No. 14 North Carolina returns to action vs. UNC Wilmington

Sports Xchange
05 Dec 2018, 12:03 GMT+10

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When UNC Wilmington visits No. 14 North Carolina on Wednesday night, there will be a reunion tone to it.

Yet the game at the Smith Center marks only the fourth all-time meeting between the teams.

For North Carolina, it's a chance to get back on track after losses in two of the past three games.

UNCW arrives with second-year coach C.B. McGrath, who was an assistant coach on the Tar Heels' staff under coach Roy Williams. McGrath is also a former Kansas player for Williams.

North Carolina's depth will be tested again because Williams announced on his radio show Monday night that freshman guard Coby White, who has been a starter in every game, will sit out for precautionary reasons with a sore ankle.

White led North Carolina in scoring in the past three games and had the team's top assist total in two of the games.

"I like to play a lot of guys because it's a long season," Williams said earlier. "The other thing is I want to see how they play."

The Tar Heels (6-2) should be in good shape in that junior point guard Seventh Woods got off to a strong start to the season. He led the team in assists through five games before sitting out two games with a concussion, but he has since returned to action.

On the other side, UNCW guard Kai Toews, who was named the most recent Rookie of the Week in the Colonial Athletic Association, is a former high school teammate of North Carolina reserve guard Andrew Platek.

"Coach McGrath knew about me through Platek and that ended being my route to playing Division I basketball," Toews said, pointing out a connection between the two teams.

Aside from McGrath, Jackie Manuel, who played for Williams on the 2005 national championship team, is a UNCW assistant coach.

North Carolina has had one-week layoff since losing at Michigan. The Tar Heels have trailed at halftime in their past three games.

"If we take care of the ball, everything will take care of itself," senior guard Kenny Williams said.

UNCW is coming off Saturday's 91-85 home loss to Davidson.

"The litmus test is we aren' good enough, but we are getting better," McGrath said.

The Seahawks have reached 80 points in the past three games, with reducing turnovers one of the areas that has helped the efficiency at that end.

"We are making progress," UNCW forward Devontae Cacock said. "Realizing we have to take care of the ball is a big key to the game and we're starting to adjust more and have more responsibility."

The Tar Heels own a 3-0 record against UNCW, though the teams haven't met since Dec. 31, 2013.

North Carolina is 166-18 all time against non-conference, in-state opponents. This season, UNCW is 1-4 when facing in-state competition.

This is the first of four December games for the Tar Heels. That's the fewest for the team in the month since the 1961-62 season when Dean Smith was in his first season as coach.

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