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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 13 North Carolina at Syracuse

by Sharon Thorsland

North Carolina has hit a road block the past two weeks, losing three of its last five games. The 7th ranked Tar Heels (19-6, 11-3 ACC) lost at Syracuse on Tuesday after allowing the Orange to shoot a ridiculous 63% from the floor. They’re looking to hit the reset button and get their defense back on track when they take on a dangerous Virginia Tech team on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 2:00 on WBT.

The Hokies are having another mediocre season, they’re 14-10 overall and 6-7 in the league. But they’re coming off a win over Florida State that snapped a three game losing streak. And they’ve got a dynamic duo at guard with veterans Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor. The pair combines to average over 30 points per game and are shooting over 36% from three. They’ll challenge the Tar Heels, who have struggled in recent games to slow down guards. UNC also needs to clamp down on the defense – after going 10 games without allowing over 70 points, the Heels have now giving up 80 ore more in three of their past four games.

The Hokies have a deep bench, they have nine players that average double-digit minutes. One of them is former Tar Heel Tyler Nickel, who transferred to Virginia Tech this season He’ll no doubt be fired up for this one as he returns to the Smith Center. Heels center Armando Bacot will face 6-10 senior Lynn Kidd, he’s averaging 13 points and nearly seven rebounds a contest Defense has not been the Hokies’ strong suit, they’re in the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency and are giving up over 74 points a game.

In spite of their recent struggles, this should be a get-right game for the Tar Heels. The Hokies have lost three of their last four games and are 1-6 on the road, and they’ve only won once at the Smith Center. That shouldn’t change Saturday. Go Tar Heels!