on its running shoes for the first time in a long time Friday night, keeping
pace with hot-shooting point guard Bryce Cotton and the Providence Friars in a
79-77 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels
showcased a balanced offense, spreading the love with five players putting up
double-digit point totals. UNC, always a team that relies on transition
offense, had eight fast-break points Friday. Not ideal, but certainly better
than the zero it put up in an 80-75 loss to Pittsburgh at the ACC
To have a
chance against the Cyclones, UNC will need to continue to push the pace.
“Iowa State’s playing the way I want to play,” said coach Roy Williams,
who called his own team slow a couple of weeks ago.
“We’re not playing at the pace that I would like for us to. But we’re
still working on it. We played at a better pace last night.”
UNC could be aided by Iowa State’s loss of 6-foot-7 forward Georges
Niang, who suffered a broken bone in his right foot Friday night.
Niang has been the Cyclones’ leading scorer in their last five games,
dropping 20.4 points per game, and he’s third on the team with 16.7 points per
But Iowa State is still a potent force with or without him. The
Cyclones’ leading scorer, senior forward Melvin Ejim is an All-American, the
Big 12 player of the year and supplies 18.1 points per contest. Senior guard
DeAndre Kane, who won the Big 12 Championship most outstanding player award, is
just behind him with 16.9 points per game. And at the point, the Cyclones flash
a precocious freshman floor general in Monté Morris, who leads the country with
a 5.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Cyclones are coming off of a 93-75 defeat of N.C. Central in the
NCAA Tournament’s second round, and though they’ll likely miss Niang’s 24
points of production, their high tempo could still wreak all sorts of havoc.
UNC will try to match it.
“(It’s) definitely something we've been really focused on,
especially when you're coming into the tournament when you're playing people
that aren't necessarily familiar with you,” said junior forward James Michael
McAdoo on Saturday.
“And it's something that we have been doing lately, so I think (Friday’s
game) is something we're definitely going to use, kind of trampoline into this
game and continue to get better at doing that.”