North Carolina (5-2) vs. UAB (4-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
ESPNU (Clay Matvik, Jay Williams)
"To be truthful, by far the biggest thing on my brain is trying to put a good game plan together and play a good game. All the other stuff will be emotional and fun. It's not something where I'm taking a vacation." – UAB head coach Jerod Haase
Season to Date: UAB enters Saturday’s contest with a 4-3 overall record. The Blazers have wins over Young Harris College (105-59), Navy (82-63), Prairie View A&M (76-70) and Troy (75-55), while dropping games to Creighton (77-60), Illinois State (77-65) and TCU (76-73).
Familiar Face: Haase returns for a game at the Smith Center for the first time since leaving Roy Williams’s staff after 13 years. The 38-year-old was an Academic All-American and basketball standout for Kansas in the mid-1990s under Williams’s tutelage before joining the staff as an administrative assistant in 1999. Haase was elevated to assistant coach when Williams took the North Carolina job in 2003.
Shades of Carolina Blue: The Blazers wear green and gold, but as expected, Haase has installed a similar system to what North Carolina runs. UAB has shown offensive balance with all five starters averaging at least nine points per game. Haase’s squad leads Conference USA in assists per game (17.4), ranks second in steals (8.6) and third in scoring (76.6).
Shooting Struggles: Despite dishing out more than 17 assists per game, Haase’s squad has encountered issues in scoring the basketball. The Blazers are converting just 43.9 percent of their field goal attempts (9th CUSA), including a 34.0 effort from 3-point range. Leading scorers Jordan Swing (14.1) and Rod Rucker (14.0) are the only two of eight players logging 15 minutes or more shooting 46 percent or better.
Defensive Reliance: The Blazers have made up for their shooting woes by holding their opponents to 40.1 percent shooting on the season (5th CUSA), including 30.5 from long range (3rd CUSA). UAB is also forcing 17 turnovers per game. The Blazers shut down Preseason All-American Doug McDermott in their loss to Creighton, holding the forward to five points on 2-of-6 shooting. It marked the first time in McDermott’s college career that he was held to single digits.
Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated UAB, 60-55, in quarterfinal NIT action on Mar. 23, 2010 at Bartow Arena. The game was tied at 25-25 and again late in the second half at 47-47 before UNC pulled away down the stretch. Deon Thompson led the Tar Heels with 14 points and 12 rebounds. North Carolina shot 41.5 percent from the floor while holding the Blazers to 28.8 percent shooting.
Series History: UNC leads the series, 2-0.
3 Terence Jones (6-2, 185, Sr.) - 9.4 ppg, 4.6 apg
5 Robert Williams (6-4, 210, Jr.) - 9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg
44 Jordan Swing (6-6, 200, Jr.) - 14.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg
42 Rod Rucker (6-5, 220, Jr.) - 14.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg
15 Fahro Alihodzic (6-10, 240, Jr.) - 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
24 Preston Purifoy (6-5, 220, Jr.) - 6.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg
23 Isiah Jones (6-4, 193, So.) - 5.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Roster & Bios
(Photos by US Presswire)