The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Senior North Carolina forward Danny Green said he had one question after hearing of Kentucky's 103-111 loss to heavy underdog VMI on Saturday.

""Was anyone playing defense?""

A valid question" especially given that Green's Tar Heels face that Kentucky team tonight.

But regardless of how poorly Kentucky defended their opening opponent the Tar Heels will certainly be focusing their own defense on slowing down Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson.

Patterson's numbers from KU's season-opener were not overwhelming — eight points" seven boards — but numbers can be deceiving.

 North Carolina and Roy Williams remember all too clearly the 19 points and nine rebounds Patterson hung on the Tar Heels as a freshman last year.

""Physically" he is extremely imposing Williams said. When he posts you up down low you stay posted up. I mean" he can bury you underneath the basket and you cannot get around him.""

In fact"" one of the biggest anomalies in Kentucky's box score Saturday was that Patterson took only four shots. That's an anomaly that UNC expects the Wildcats to correct.

""I would bet that Patrick would be much more of a factor in (tonight's) game"" Williams said. And they're probably going to do a lot more things trying to focus on him.""

And if Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie needed any more impetus to look to the post" All-America forward Tyler Hansbrough will not play tonight Williams said Monday.

That makes Deon Thompson Patterson's primary defender with help from two freshman big men" Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller.

""I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the one guarding him"" Thompson said. And I'm going to accept it and do the best I can.""

So how will Thompson" neither lauded for his defense nor considered a liability" slow down Kentucky's best threat?

""Just wall him and make him score over me"" Thompson said. That's the best I can do is make him score over me. Don't pick up silly fouls or foul him while you're trying to get position on him.""

When Thompson goes out" Patterson also will provide the first test down low for UNC's two freshman forwards Zeller and Davis.

Davis in particular could shore up UNC's rebounding woes" as the Tar Heels out-rebounded undersized Penn by only 10.

""I mean"" he's 6'10"" and he can get up off the floor" Thompson said of Davis. He wants to rebound" and I think that's a big thing when you try to rebound the ball is that you have to have a want to do it. And he definitely has that.""

And Williams is not hesitant to test the skills of Davis and Zeller against Kentucky — even in a game that serves as the centerpiece of ESPN's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

""I think it is extremely important to get them as many minutes as you can in game-type scenarios"" Williams said. We can't simulate in practice with Patrick Moody and J.B. (Tanner) and those guys what we're going to face with Patrick Patterson tomorrow night.""

Contact the Sports Editor

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.