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The Daily Tar Heel

Preview: The three keys to a UNC victory at N.C. State on Monday night


UNC's men's basketball coach Roy Williams cheers from the sidelines during a game against Clemson at the Smith Center on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. Clemson defeated UNC for the first time in Chapel Hill 79-76.

The North Carolina basketball team came out strong against Miami and snapped its five-game losing streak, showing fans flashes of UNC basketball's traditional style of play.

The Tar Heels now look to carry that momentum into a tough competition against a tournament-caliber N.C. State team that's currently fifth in the ACC. Here are some keys to a North Carolina victory in Raleigh.

Three-point shooting 

The Tar Heels need to defend the deep ball and create opportunities of their own from beyond the arc to be competitive against N.C. State. 

A pair of upperclassmen guards make perimeter shooting a real threat from the N.C. State offense. Braxton Beverly (35.2 percent from 3-point range) and Markell Johnson (42.2 percent last season) both have the ability to make any night a shooting exhibition. North Carolina is 226th in the country at 3-point defense, and will need to step up against the Wolfpack to shut down the perimeter threat. 

On the offensive side, the Tar Heels were led Saturday by a career-high 29 points from senior guard Brandon Robinson, who shot six of 10 from beyond the arc. Robinson will need to be lights out from deep again Monday night to provide the Tar Heels, who are ranked 309th in 3-point percentage, another option for offensive production outside of the paint.

Dominate the paint

The one thing that has been a constant positive for the North Carolina offense this season has been offensive rebounding and second-chance points from its big men. Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot have combined for 15 double-doubles on the season and with a struggling offense, more scoring opportunities are crucial to success. 

On the other hand, N.C. State struggled in the paint without redshirt first-year Manny Bates in its loss to Georgia Tech Saturday, with just 14 of the Wolfpack's 58 points coming from their forwards. Bates leads the N.C. State defense with 2.94 blocks per game and is a formidable presence down low. He left the Clemson game early with a concussion and his return against the Tar Heels is questionable.

In his absence, D.J. Funderburk has stepped up. Funderburk has led the Wolfpack in rebounds this season and picked up his first double-double of the season against Clemson after Bates' early exit. The redshirt junior will play a crucial role if N.C. State hopes to match up against the Tar Heels' size at the rim.

Poise on the road 

The Tar Heels have struggled on the road this season, with their sole away victory coming at UNCW back in November. These struggles on the road could be on full display heading into the hostile atmosphere of PNC Arena.

The Wolfpack will be amped up to play one of their biggest games of the season, while the Tar Heels can't take any game for granted with a 2-6 record in the ACC this year.

North Carolina will look to control the atmosphere in PNC Arena by starting fast and turning defense into offense to hinder any N.C. State momentum.


@DTHSports |

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