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The Daily Tar Heel

Preview: Keys to a UNC men's basketball victory against Boston College at home

UNC junior guard RJ Davis (4) passes the ball in the Dean Smith Center on Jan. 4, 2023, against the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons. UNC won 88-79.

After a dominant performance in Louisville, the North Carolina men's basketball team looks to continue its execution against a desperate Boston College team.

The Eagles are coming off of a three-game losing streak and hoping to earn a key ACC win. The Tar Heels are hoping to continue their eight-game winning streak at the Dean E. Smith Center and avoid the unlikely upset.

Here are five keys UNC must focus on for a successful matchup:

Don’t settle for three

UNC is ranked 12th in the ACC for 3-point shooting percentage. Yet, the Tar Heels have attempted 383 three-pointers this season — the seventh most in the conference — and made just 122 of those attempts. Boston College has the worst 3-point defense of any team in the conference, but the Tar Heels will still have to create more diverse scoring opportunities from inside and in transition. 

UNC can also earn a lot of its points from the line with numerous free throw attempts each game. Leading up to this matchup, UNC is averaging 18.1 points from the free throw line per game. Attacking the rim early and often can lead to the rest of the offense opening up, with the Eagles likely forced to think about foul trouble.

Assists, assists, assists

The Tar Heels have to put less emphasis on one-on-one offense and focus on team basketball, which they have done in spurts throughout the season.

Since falling to Virginia Tech in early December, UNC has recorded 12 or more assists in all but one contest. On Tuesday, the Tar Heels should look to run more designed plays in a free-flowing offense rather than allowing junior guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis to run constant isolation plays and force shots.  

Bench minutes

As the season continues, head coach Hubert Davis has been more trustful of his bench, especially first-years Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington, who have seen increased minutes with recent injuries to starting forwards Pete Nance and Armando Bacot.

Sophomore D’Marco Dunn also stepped up in UNC's game against Louisville this past weekend, playing 25 minutes and scoring a career-high 14 points. Bench points played a massive role in the win against Louisville with UNC scoring 26 to the Cardinals’ 10. 

While Bacot returned to the court against Louisville after suffering an ankle injury against Virginia, Nance's status for Tuesday is still up in the air. Expect the bench to continue to be relied upon against the Eagles, especially if UNC gets out to an early comfortable lead.

Lead, not trail

A couple of teams have been able to upset the Tar Heels because they got off to a slow start and never turned it around, such as was the case in their 80-72 loss to Virginia Tech. However, UNC is difficult to beat if they start the game strong and play hard until the final buzzer. 

If the men look to make a deep run like last year, they have to start the game off swinging and never look back. 

Do not underestimate the opponent

Even though Boston College is only 2-5 in conference play, this subpar record is likely a motivating factor heading into this matchup. As the Eagles look to turn their season around, they will likely play desperate, which can be dangerous for any opponent.

The Eagles, led by senior guard Makai Ashton-Langford, have recorded wins against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, and nearly upset Duke on Jan. 7. In a conference full of strong teams, anyone can lose on any given night if they are not playing to their full potential.

If UNC is not careful, they may also find themselves on the verge of another loss.


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