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The Daily Tar Heel

Historic mark nearing for UNC basketball

Victory tonight would be 2,000

Despite its season-long struggles, the North Carolina men’s basketball team has a chance to make history tonight.

A win against Miami would give the Tar Heels their 2,000th win as a program, a feat accomplished only by Kentucky in college basketball history.

This feat was considered to be a given before the season began, but UNC’s recent stumbles in the ACC put it in jeopardy of not occurring until the team’s 101st season of basketball.

Saturday’s 77-68 victory against Wake Forest, however, put the Tar Heels (15-14, 4-10 ACC) in position to earn a memorable moment during a forgettable season.

“Just being a part of that, all the history, I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel,” UNC swingman Will Graves said of reaching 2,000 wins.

While North Carolina will have at least three more games this season to get there, its best chance will most likely be tonight.

Miami is tied for last place in the conference along with N.C. State and the Tar Heels, and the Hurricanes are coming off a home loss to the Wolfpack.

UNC, meanwhile, played one of its best games of the season Saturday against the Demon Deacons. Leslie McDonald scored a career-high 16 points, and North Carolina held Wake Forest to less than 30 percent shooting.

Coach Roy Williams said his team should be able to use some of the excitement and momentum from that win down the stretch.

“This should give us some confidence, there’s no question, especially making shots when we had to and getting shots when we had to,” Williams said.

Should the Tar Heels not manage to win tonight, their next opportunities will be daunting — at No. 4 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium and the first round of the ACC Tournament.

But if this season is any indication, UNC should be able to take care of business in Chapel Hill.

The Hurricanes (18-10, 4-10) have not registered a win on the road in ACC play, and their two wins on the road all season have come against Stetson (7-22) and Pepperdine (7-23).

Miami is one of the better perimeter teams in the ACC, and that could pose problems against a UNC defense that ranks second to last in the conference in defending the three-point line.

But the Tar Heels should have a significant rebounding edge to counterbalance their defensive deficiency. UNC ranks second in the conference in rebounding, while Miami sits at ninth.

Though Williams has cited motivation as a problem for his team on multiple occasions, that shouldn’t be a problem for at least six Tar Heels tonight.

Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Marc Campbell, Terrence Petree, James Gallagher and Thomas Thornton will be suiting up for UNC at home for the last time and will be making speeches after the game as a part of Senior Night festivities.

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