Barnes' ankle not so 'great' after all

acarter@newsobserver.comFebruary 8, 2012 

— North Carolina sophomore forward Harrison Barnes told the audience listening to coach Roy Williams' weekly radio show Monday night that his ankle felt "great" and he'd "be ready to go against Duke."

On Tuesday, though, Barnes took a less definitive stance when discussing his status for the No. 5 Tar Heels' game against the No. 10 Blue Devils.

"(I'm) still just working through it, and I should be able to play against Duke," he said.

Barnes is expected to play when the teams meet tonight at 9 at the Smith Center. How effective he can be, though, remains to be seen. He re-injured his sprained left ankle during an 83-74 victory against Maryland on Saturday.

"We want him to be as close to 100 percent as we can, but I don't think he's going to be there by any means," Williams said Tuesday.

Barnes lacked his normal explosiveness during practice Monday, and said Tuesday that warming his ankle up would be important before the game tonight.

"There's no real specific thing," Barnes said. "You just have to get a lot of blood flowing, whether it's doing lay-ups, hitting shots, running or making sure you're constantly keeping it moving so it doesn't just get cold and lock up."

No place like home?

The Smith Center and Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium are usually at their loudest when either Duke or North Carolina visits, but there hasn't been much of a home-court advantage in this rivalry in recent seasons.

Since 2008, home teams are 4-4 in the series. Last year, the home team won both games in the series for the first time since 2003.

"I don't think it is as big an edge when it's North Carolina against Duke (as) when it's North Carolina against directional school B," Williams said of the supposed home-court advantage. "You know, I think it has much more of an advantage there. ... The players make more of a difference than the gym."

The Tar Heels, who beat Duke in the teams' most recent meeting at the Smith Center, haven't won consecutive home games against the Blue Devils since winning seven straight between Feb. 5, 1992 and Feb. 5, 1998.

Williams wants more from bench

Since entering the starting lineup after Dexter Strickland suffered a season-ending knee injury, Tar Heels sophomore Reggie Bullock has scored in double figures in three of four games, and he has earned praise for his defensive play. But his promotion left a void on the bench.

Freshman guard P.J. Hairston has taken the role of sixth man, but he has struggled with his outside shot. He is shooting 18.2 percent from 3-point range and averaging 4.1 points in ACC play.

Freshman forward James Michael McAdoo is averaging 3.1 points in ACC games.

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