Barnes' health key for Heels

Size, shooting could hurt Duke

jdaly@newsobserver.comFebruary 8, 2012 

As No. 5 North Carolina prepares for tonight's grudge match with No. 10 Duke, it's undoubtedly noticed in film sessions that the Blue Devils have trouble defending tall, athletic perimeter players.

So a key component of tonight's game (9 p.m., WRAL) between the Tar Heels (20-3, 7-1 ACC) and the Blue Devils (19-4, 6-2) will be whether Harrison Barnes' ankle injury compromises his ability to get to the basket or to pull up for jumpers. If the sophomore forward can play effectively, he fits the mold of the type of player Duke has struggled with this season.

"We have a small perimeter," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We don't have the versatility - we either have big guys or perimeter guys."

At 6-foot-8, Barnes will have four inches on the two Duke players most likely to guard him - 6-4 Austin Rivers and 6-4 Andre Dawkins.

Rivers said he expects he'll have to defend Barnes throughout tonight's game. The last time the two matched up was in the summer at the Kevin Durant Camp, and Rivers said both players will have their hands full.

"He might not be fun to match up with, but it's not fun to match up with me, either," Rivers said.

From UNC's perspective, containing Duke's perimeter also will be a challenge.

"They have really an ability to score," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "... I really do think they have a complete team that can put it on the floor, shoot the 3 and can score inside."

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