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February 18, 2011
Heels draw rematch with BC
North Carolina, winners of 15 out of its last 18 games and currently holding a 9-2 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play, goes after its 20th win of the 2010-2011 season Saturday afternoon.
They'll take the court of the Smith Center, where they're a perfect 12-0 so far this season, to take on a Boston College team that they destroyed in Chestnut Hill 106-74 back on February 1. Tipoff is set for 4:00 pm from Chapel Hill on ESPN.
"We've had great success playing at home. You have your crowd," said freshman point guard Kendall Marshall.
"I believe every team in the country, they're going to have a better record when they're playing at home playing with your own basketballs, your own rims---everything you're used to---and hopefully we can stop losing on the road, too. That would be great."
But Marshall and the rest of the Tar Heel players accept the fact that they may very well not win quite as easily against the Eagles this time around.
With a 16-9 overall record and a 6-5 mark in ACC play, BC desperately needs a big win to keep alive their hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth.
The 32-point loss to Carolina was the third in a three-game ACC losing streak for the Eagles, but they've gotten their act together in recent games with home wins against Virginia Tech and Maryland sandwiched around a road loss at Clemson.
"I'm looking forward to it. Boston College, they're a good team," said Marshall. "I think they're around the middle of the pack in the league. They have two great players and a great supporting cast. They run a great offense."
"They're a good team. They beat Maryland so they're on a little bit of a roll, so we've got to come in and be ready to play on Saturday," said sophomore forward John Henson.
Led by junior guard Reggie Jackson and senior forward Joe Trapani, the Eagles currently rank fourth in the ACC in scoring at 73.2 points per game.
Both Jackson and Trapani are among the league's top ten scorers---Jackson a team-best 18.5 ppg (third in the ACC) and Trapani 14.7 ppg (eighth in the ACC).
"They're a very good team. Reggie Jackson is an extremely good player. And he's surrounded by a great cast," said freshman Harrison Barnes.
To a man, the Tar Heel players acknowledged that they can't be complacent this week in practice and on Saturday just because they carved up Steve Donahue's team in one of its best performances of the season not that long ago.
"I don't think we can use our first game (against BC) as just, 'Oh, that's the same way they're going to play here (in Chapel Hill)," said Barnes. "I think they're going to be very fired up after the loss, and we've got to match their intensity."
"We played very well there (at BC), and we know that they're going to be coming after us," said junior center Tyler Zeller. "It's one of those things that we've got to get up for it and get ready for it. I think it will be very important."
"They're going to be ready," said sophomore shooting guard Leslie McDonald of Boston College.
"The first thing we've got to do is cut off their heads before they can come after us, so that's our main focus," McDonald added.
"They're going to come out hungry. We beat them at their place and I'm sure they want to come here and do the same thing to us," said Marshall.
Coming off Tuesday night's sluggish performance in a win over Wake Forest, the Tar Heels know they're going to have to step it up against a team that's more than capable of beating them if they play poorly.
"Seeing Wake Forest and the way they played us, seeing they were the last place team (in the ACC) but they still came out with the fire, I expect BC to come out a little bit tougher," said McDonald.
"We've just got to work on our game and be ready and focused for this coming Saturday."
"I think to beat Boston College, we'll have to play a lot better than we did (against Wake Forest)," said Henson. "I think we can do that."